By Valentine Lacour
If you share KeiSei magazine’s interest in fashion, you have probably heard of the terms “sustainable fashion”. Maybe “green fashion” or even “slow fashion”? You might even have heard SO MUCH about them, that you have lost interest in slow fashion altogether. Or maybe, you don’t really believe that it is for you at all.
Misconceptions about slow fashion: Slow but not dated.
As someone who has worked for a sustainable fashion business in the past, I am all for slow fashion. However, I do understand that my experience within this industry is very different from most consumers. Seeing slow fashion businesses from the outside you might have developed some (understandable) misconceptions.
Two primary factors appear to prevent people from buying slow fashion. The first is the higher prices of the items. The second is the struggle to find garments that match an everyday lifestyle. Moreover, slow fashion suffers from the misconception that “slow” means “old and boring”, or the total opposite, “too eccentric”.
Slow Fashion is FAR from being the boring industry you imagine.
Actually, slow fashion is an exciting growing industry. It uses everything available to create something new without damaging the planet or humankind. And trust me, there are definitely some slow fashion brands out there made for you!
Slow Fashion but not Slow Energy
So, if you think “old and ugly” when I say “slow fashion”, hear me out!
In 2013, the activist collective of “pro-fashion protesters” (and charity through the Fashion Revolution Foundation), Fashion Revolution came up with an unforgettable marketing campaign “Who Made Your/My Clothes?”. This campaign had a major impact on consumers at the time. As consumers, we were encouraged to think about the provenance of our clothing and its (often) negative impact on the planet.
Beyond the environmental argument, this campaign questioned our capacity to trace the origin of our clothing. Therefore, we were encouraged to think about the (usually) under-paid garment-worker who makes our fast fashion clothes and re-think our shopping habits
Although the campaign was launched many years ago, today again, people are still asking the question “who made your clothes?” on social media to support sustainable and ethical fashion.
More recently, Fashion Revolution participated in the “Clean Clothes Campaign”. It aims to hold fast fashion brands accountable for underpaying their garment-workers. Anyone can follow and join the campaign with the hashtag #payyourworkers.
Slow fashion and micro business
Far from being in “slow-motion” when it comes to creativity, designs, promotion, events, and collaboration, most slow-fashion business insiders are very busy people!
For instance, at CONGREGATIONdesign (Cd), designers reflect on the ambivalence of being a slow-fashion business with dynamic energy and busy schedules:
“The collective is definitely based on the “slow” model. It allows us to respect the designers’ and makers’ work. However, with now fifty contributors part of the collective, I can say that it never feels “slow”. There are always projects on the way or in the launch at CONGREGATIONdesign. We are very busy people! When we are not working on the collection directly, we are working on the “Zine” [magazine], a shoot, an editorial, an interview, a pop-up event, or a collaboration.
For us, slow fashion is just a way to explain that we are not on the same schedule as the rest of the fashion industry. Besides that, we are always busy!”
Slow fashion doesn’t mean slow creativity or energy!
How to slow down the fashion industry?
Ditching the Fashion Week Calendar!
If the term “slow” in “slow-fashion” stands for “slow production and consumption”, then you can imagine that there are many ways to slow down the traditional fashion system. One way that has been increasingly promoted over the past few years is to abandon the seasonal fashion calendar.
A new consensus for high fashion insiders?
In 2020, and in the climate of the current COVID-19 pandemic, many fashion collectives, and insiders have called out the fashion week calendar and have positioned themselves in favour of slowing down the current agenda.
The above statement was followed by an open letter offering to delay the traditional fashion calendar. The new calendar would be adapted to the current world pandemic. The designer’s letter was approved and signed by more than 400 established brands and fashion insiders.
It includes Acne Studios CEO Mattias Magnusson, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Erdem Moralioglu, Gabriela Hearst, Pete Nordstrom, PR Consulting’s Pierre Rougier, Tory Burch, Dries Van Noten president Matteo De Rosa and Van Noten himself, among many others.
Additionally, the CEOs, buyers, designers, and creative directors who came together to publish the open letter have discussed broader changes to improve the fashion industry.
“We agreed that the current environment although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately align them more closely with customers’ needs.” – Dries Van Noten & designers, Open Letter, May 2020
Furthermore, other high fashion brands and labels such as Browns, Burberry, and Gucci (and many others) have already spoken up about ditching the traditional seasonal calendar of the fashion industry.
What about small non-seasonal fashion labels?
Although small and micro sustainable labels have less financial support than corporate and established brands, they also have their part to play in this “fashion revolution”.
For instance, since its creation in 2016, CONGREGATIONdesign (Cd) ‘s work is based on non-seasonal collections. It also encourages volunteering, and collaborative projects, making it a “Slow-fashion” business.
The designers of CD explained to us why it is essential for them to create non-seasonal collections and why the extra time given by a “slow” production is so precious.
In direct support of the slow fashion values, Cd launched last month their new collection, entirely upcycled and inclusive.
Instigating positive change
Altogether, slow fashion is a wide and ambitious project that aims to create fashion while respecting the environment, the makers, and consumers of fashion. To support this project, it is necessary to rethink our way to consume and encourage slower, more sustainable, ethical, and inclusive fashion.
In short, I want to help you to understand the challenges that the fashion industry is currently facing and encourage a healthier consuming option. If you had some misleading preconceptions of what slow-fashion is, I hope that you are now convinced of the positive change slow fashion is bringing to the fashion industry!