Slow Fashion

What is slow fashion + can we truly change the fashion industry for the better?

Slow fashion encourages quality over quantity, aiming to reduce consumption and overproduction. In this article, we dive into what slow fashion really means and why it's crucial for promoting sustainability and ethical practices. Learn all about slow fashion, the revolutionary concept that's transforming the world of style. From mindful shopping and choosing organic materials to second-hand thrifting, every decision counts.

July 24, 2023

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Often used interchangeably with sustainable and ethical fashion, slow fashion is a term we are hearing more and more these days.

But, what exactly is slow fashion? And why is it such an important concept in terms of sustainable and ethical fashion?

In this article, we shed some light on the topic and discuss the value of adopting a slow fashion mindset to promote sustainability and help protect the environment.

What is slow fashion and why should we embrace it?

Sign saying Wear, Repair, Remake, Repeat.
Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. – Vivienne Westwood

Coined in 2007 by fashion and sustainability pioneer Kate Fletcher, slow fashion is a relatively new term that has been most welcomed by the sustainable and ethical fashion community. 

Although the term slow fashion is often used interchangeably with the terms sustainable fashion and ethical fashion, there are subtle differences. 

Simply put, slow fashion is literally the opposite of fast fashion and uses a quality over quantity approach.

Slow fashion is an overall mindset that aims to reduce consumption and overproduction while encouraging a minimalist wardrobe consisting of long-lasting garments.

On the other hand, sustainable fashion focuses on the methods and materials used during clothing production, and aims to minimise undesirable environmental damage. 

Just like the slow fashion mentality, these more sustainable approaches consider all stages of a product’s life cycle, from its design, manufacturing, raw material, and resources used. They address the working conditions for workers, considering their welfare, wages, and safety. And beyond this, promote reuse , repair, recycling, and upcycling.

So while not entirely the same, the terms actually complement each other.

What is fast fashion and why is it harmful to the environment?

Also a relatively new phenomenon, the fast fashion concept entered the clothing industry around 30 years ago. 

Mass-market retailers took advantage of the ability to make high volumes of clothing cheaply and quickly using synthetic materials and cheap labour. 

Through clever marketing, these big fashion industries have created a need to stay trendy and avoid the ‘industry-derived’ shame of outfit repeating. And, now everyone can afford to dress in the latest fashion and easily discard old for new. 

Bottom line, the clothing and accessories produced by mass-market retailers responding to the latest trends are created with the sole intention of increased sales and maximum profit.  

But why does this matter you ask.

The ugly truth is, fast fashion has long-lasting and devastating environmental costs

For starters, it is the second most water-intensive industry in the world. Incredibly, it takes up to 3,000 litres of water just to make one t-shirt and up to 10,000 litres to make one pair of blue jeans!

Plastic fibres and toxic dyes often end up in our waterways causing pollution. Not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. The poor quality materials used to make this throw-away fast fashion make recycling all but impossible. Underpaid workers are exploited.

So what’s the solution?

Sign saying Quality, Not Quantity.

It’s quite simple. Embrace the slow fashion movement!

As  consumers, we have a lot of power when it comes to the fashion industry. Small changes in our buying habits and our attitude can have a big effect on the success of fast fashion.

So, vote with your wallet!

Shop wisely

Reduce the amount of new clothing purchased and make mindful choices. Check the materials of each garment or accessory before you buy and choose sensibly.  

For example, a polyester t-shirt is not likely to have a long lifespan but will release millions of microplastics during its lifetime. And once disposed of, this same t-shirt will release toxic fumes that pollute and damage our atmosphere. 

In contrast, an organic cotton t-shirt will usually last much longer, won’t shed microplastics, and can be composted, returning it to the earth when it’s no longer suitable for wearing. 

Shop second hand

Woman browsing through rack in second hand clothing shop.

A more budget-friendly way of slowing down your fast fashion consumption is to shop second hand. Thrift shopping is a key component of the slow fashion movement. 

And, although second hand clothes are often a product of the fast fashion industry, purchasing second hand clothing will help reduce the need for clothing manufacturing and, as a consequence, will keep the items from ending up in landfill. 

Plus, second hand shopping extends the lifespan of existing clothes and can enrich your wardrobe with vintage and one-of-a-kind garments.

Research brands before you buy

Before you purchase a new item, investigate the brand you're buying from and choose sustainable and ethical. Educate yourself, research brands, and beware of greenwashing, a deceptive marketing spin used by the big fast fashion brands. 

Directories such as The Ethical Consumer and Good On You, as well as certifications like GOTS, TENCEL™, and OEKO-TEX, are helping ensure brands implement any eco-friendly initiatives they promise. Plus, taking the time to research  brands and products will help you slow down and consider the wider impact of your investment.

Consider what you already own

Shop your closet! 

You may be surprised to find that just by checking out and reorganising your own wardrobe, you have a closet full of new and trendy fashions. Fast fashion makes it too easy to go out and impulse buy when, in fact, you may already have all the clothes and accessories you need! 

And, your newly assembled creations will not just save you money, but can be trendy and unique. 

Final thoughts

Embracing the slow fashion concept will help reduce the amount of textile waste, carbon emissions, and plastic pollution in the world. A definite plus for the environment and a positive step in the battle against climate change.

So, be more mindful of what you purchase, choose ethical, sustainable brands, reuse what’s already in your wardrobe, and shop second hand. All important components to help bring slow fashion to the fore. 

By choosing sustainable and ethical brands, you can help reshape the future of fashion while protecting the planet. Join the Slow Fashion Movement and be the change!

Ready to embark on your slow fashion journey? Check out our inspiring tips for building a sustainable wardrobe and discover our collection of ethically made bras and panties.

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Siobhán Dunphy

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.