There are many ways to introduce more sustainability into fashion and slow fashion is one specific aspect of overall fashion sustainability … and it is the sustainability goal we primarily focus on at MERCURY DASHA.
There are many great new emerging fashion brands that are sustainable brands, and each approaches sustainability in its own unique way.
Some brands focus on materials, some focus on supply chains advocating for less transit in the production process and advocating for local production.
Some brands focus their attention on environmentally friendly processes, while some focus on harnessing technology and innovation to reduce sampling and wasted inventory. Other brands focus on upcycling, rental and recycling.
Slow fashion is one approach and, rather than describing one process or specific technique or strategy, describes an approach or mindset as to how to consume fashion more mindfully, and as such more responsibility. It is often described as a concept in the context of its opposite - that of fast fashion.
Slow fashion deals with the underlying problem or cause of one of the world’s worst polluting industries (rather than only dealing with the symptoms) which is that of over-production and over-consumption.
Generating demand at too frequent a rate and encouraging a throwaway culture when it comes to enjoying fashion, has led to fashion being one of the most damaging industries to the environment.
Here are some key elements of the slow fashion movement and how slow fashion brands approach fashion design and manufacturing of their collections:
Buy Better, Buy Less
Slow fashion emphasises enjoyment over your purchase and encourages people to buy less but to focus on quality items that that will last rather than fall apart after one wear.
Some slow fashion brands protest against or boycott days like Black Friday because they encourage people to over-purchase and buy cheap goods that will end up in the rubbish after one wear.
Instead, the slow fashion movement encourages people to truly savour their fashion purchases and slow down their purchasing and the rate at which they replace their wardrobe and really get the most value from their clothes.
Smaller Collections, Less Often
For brands, slow fashion is about slowing down the incessant call for more and quicker.
Designers have often commented on how having to create constant collections leads to burnout - and that is completely unnecessary - we simply do not need that many clothes.
This is especially the case now because we are able to create wardrobes that cross over seasons and environments, as we become more global and casual in our attire.
We no longer need a formal wardrobe, resort wardrobe and casual wear wardrobe - we also do not need the 'traditional' seasons.
For brands, slow fashion is about rethinking how often they present new collections, how large the collections are and being more thoughtful about each piece in the collection in the context of being able to be mixed and matched with other pieces.
Cultural and emotional connection
Slow fashion is also about creating an emotional connection with your clothes by really connecting with the piece as an art piece. It is about creating memories with clothes over time so they become a treasured piece in our life story and of our treasured wardrobe.
This elevates clothing into timepieces - sentimental and loved collectible items that are handed down.
Slow fashion is also about tapping into the cultural story of how the garment was made, when it was made, the story behind the designer and brand and the way in which you discovered and fell in love with the garment.
Versatility and Effortlessness
A large part of slow fashion is, of course, slowing down the manufacturing and purchasing process.
But this can be tied to the way in which we use and style the cloths we buy. If there are more opportunities to wear the clothes in a versatile way, to layer them, to dress them up or down, wear them over different trends and seasons, then the item becomes a slow fashion piece.
Brands that create exciting, but also timeless pieces that can be mixed and matched in different ways, and allow for a feeling of ease, versatility and effortlessness, encourage customers to move into a slow fashion mindset.
Respectful Slow Local Manufacturing
The final piece of the slow fashion movement is slow manufacturing which means that, at the level of the supply chain, we spend time creating the garment, using slow processes and artisanal and small scale methods rather than more damaging high volume production methods.
Slow fashion also allows for the flourishing of traditional methods and cultivates artisan skill because it allows artisans to continue to work in fashion and craft traditions that have been around for centuries but are becoming obsolete due to the cheaper alternates available abroad.
By being part of the slow fashion movement, slow fashion brands work to support local industries and to preserve the heritage of fashion know-how in that country.