For those not familiar with the term, slow fashion is carefully crafted, often expensive, clothing which is meant to be kept for a long period of time. You may have heard of its opposite, fast fashion, which refers to cheap, trendy, disposable clothing. The latter term came into use 20 years ago and prevails till this day. It came as a result of globalization, with transnational, budget-friendly, brands gaining recognition around the world, and later, the rise of online shopping. As brands began making clothes faster and cheaper to keep up with the latest trends, the quality of their clothing began to decline. Many influencers draw a parallel between fast fashion and fast food, both being low-cost and of poor quality.
With fashion contributing to 4% of the world’s yearly waste, many consumers are now opting for the new slow fashion trend in a bid for quality over quantity. Brands like Burberry, which was estimated to have burnt about $40 million worth of unsold products last year to protect brand exclusivity, have since become more ethically and environmentally minded, promising to reuse 130 tons of leather offcuts. Burberry, along with Versace, Gucci and Stella McCartney, has also stopped using real fur in its designs.
Stella McCartney’s 2017 Winter collection, shot by Harley Weir in a Scottish landfill.
To get a real sense of fashion’s negative impact on the environment, it is important to note that the industry is the second largest polluter in the world after the oil industry. Around 150 billion new garments are made every year (approx. 20 per person). A Greenpeace investigation in China found that traces of hazardous chemicals from dye and textile manufacturing were found in two wastewater treatment plants and a river nearby the site of a
recent pollution accident. Some of these chemicals were toxic or carcinogenic to aquatic and human life.
Slow fashion brands reduce their carbon footprint by using reused, recycled and organic materials in their designs. By choosing slow fashion clothing, consumers are supporting ethically sourced, artisanal products that will last longer than fast fashion.
Here are some rising slow fashion brands that are changing today’s fashion for a better tomorrow:
This brand is focused on supporting economic development for women in countries like Peru, Mexico, and Ethiopia. They even publish the lowest wages of their workers, allowing their customers to know the true impact of their purchases.
In photo: The Lisette Slouch Jeans
All of Thought’s fabrics are natural, organic, and recycled. Their go-to fabrics include bamboo, hemp, wool, cotton, modal and tencel. Modal and tencel fabrics are both produced from sustainably-grown trees.
In photo: Rubina Organic Cotton Corduroy Tunic
Kotn’s goal is to improve the quality of life for their farmers, whilst rebuilding the struggling Egyptian cotton industry. All of their fabrics are produced from cotton harvested by independent Egyptian farms.
In photo: ‘90s Sweatshirt
4. People Tree
Founded in 1991, this brand creates stylish, innovative, and affordable fashion while respecting people and the planet. They are part of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) community and work with artisans in 14 producer groups in 6 countries.
In photo: V&A Esther Print Midi Dress
How You Can Help
If you are not interested in buying clothes, Caritas Switzerland collects second-hand clothes, shoes, and accessories and gives them to disadvantaged people in Switzerland.