by Cathy Johnson
What is Slow Fashion and why should you care about it?
The key word is “slow” just like in “slow food,” meaning that care and time went into the creation of the article of clothing, just as care and time go into slow food. The opposite of both is, of course, “fast,” as in fast food and in fast fashion.
The idea of Slow Fashion October was created by Karen Templer of the blog Fringe Association. She is both a knitter and sewer herself. Last year she bravely posted the challenge of Slow Fashion October to start a conversation about our clothing and apparel, where it comes from, what it’s made of, and, just as important, where it goes when we are done with it.
Whereas our mothers (maybe ) but surely our grandmothers and their mothers as well had a much smaller wardrobe than we have and patched, re-hemmed, re-made or repurposed pretty much all of the family clothing, that’s not the way it works anymore.
According to Templer, part of the problem is the fashion industry itself which is constantly telling consumers that they need almost a whole new wardrobe every season, an exaggeration, perhaps, but the meaning is clear: out with the old and in with the new. And much of this “fast fashion” is both cheaply and poorly made.
Certainly the clothing industry, both design and production, is a thriving one and provides employment for many people in third world countries. And that’s a good thing, right?
What happens to all this clothing that is produced season after season? The answers are rather complicated. The easy out is to donate your old, gently used clothing to make room for the new. But the stream of used clothing stretches all the way around the world and then some.
To see how this affects not just us but the entire world, check out the online article “No One Wants Your Old Clothes” or the online video “Unravel.” The statistics and facts in both are pretty mind-blowing.
Templar’s blog has three areas of focus this October: Long Worn (repair); Handmade (by you or someone else); and, here’s a good one: Known Origins – where did the material/fabric come from? Is it natural or man-made? She asks prickly questions, meant to cause thought and discussion, and doesn’t pretend to have any easy answers. It’s a discussion, after all, not a lecture. And there are no easy, quick fixes because there are so many humans involved in all the making, selling, and buying.
Obviously we can’t go back to the ways of the pioneers, but Templer suggests that we can be more mindful of what we make and purchase.
We all know that slow food is much better for us than fast food. Hopefully the idea of slow fashion is one that will receive consideration as well.