Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic
Today is the 3rd Fashion Revolution Day – exactly 3 years ago today, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and buried more than 1000 innocent workers beneath its ruins. The security risks were well known, but the workers were still ordered to go in and work their shifts in the factory: The fast fashion chains needed their order to be delivered on time so that we – the consumerist Europeans – could shop all the latest fashion as soon as possible.
It’s unbelievable that people can be so egocentric and blind towards other people’s fate. You might think that after this tragedy, people would instantly rethink their actions and stop buying these things. But still, most people seem to switch off their brains and shop fast fashion like there’s no tomorrow, supporting inhumane working conditions and enviromental pollution. Luckily, we – which means the people that talk about working conditions and make people remember that their clothes are not made by machines, but real people who have lives, feelings and families just like us – we are getting more and more each day, making us stronger and making change happen. We are standing for quality instead of quantity, for fair working conditions, sustainable production and most of all, we are standing for slow fashion. But what does it mean?
What does Slow Fashion mean?
Typing ‘Slow Fashion’ into Google, this is the first result: “Slow Fashion is not your typical seasonal fashion trend, it is a movement that is steadily gaining momentum and is likely here to stay. Today’s mainstream fashion industry relies on globalised, mass production where garments are transformed from the design stage to the retail floor in only a few weeks.”
Even though it’s good to know that the movement is getting stronger and growing larger, the definition is quite featureless, don’t you think? This is exactly why I have felt the need to put this post together for a while now, making it clear what Slow Fashion means to me – and what it could mean to you.
Buy less, use what you have and be creative with your outfits
The first – and most important point – for me is to escape the buying cycle. No matter what all the shiny ads and window displays want to tell you, you do not need any new clothes right now. Most of the time, what you are craving is already part of your wardrobe (even if you don’t have the exact piece, a very similar one is most likely to be found). There is no reason to be part of each and every trend and let me tell you: You will feel so much better having your own style and not looking like everyone else in the street. Take one day, dedicated it to reorganizing your wardrobe and you will be surprised at how much you already own – or at how man similar pieces you own.
Personally, I have always been a huge fan of wearing my favourite pieces for several seasons – regardless of trends – and this is exactly why you still see a lot of H&M, Zara and the like here on WHAT PIXIES WEAR. Some of these pieces have been bought while I was still at school and still look like new. Take care of your clothes, read the washing instructions, don’t use a dryer if you don’t have to – and your clothes will last several years instead of several months.
Don’t be discouraged when you still love to go on a shopping trip once or even twice a month: no-one can change overnight, but identifying your buying behaviour is the first step to finally changing it. And you will soon realise that less clothing doesn’t mean less options – I have found out that the less I own, the more creative I am with my outfits.
Develop a sustainable shopping behaviour
Even with all the non-shopping that I promote, I still need (or want) something new from time to time. Whenever I feel the need to shop, I have made it a habit to check out second hand stores and online second hand platforms first and online shops focussing on fair and sustainable fashion second. Whenever that yields no result, I turn to conventional stores, knowing that the item will at least be part of my wardrobe for as long as I can make it last.
Still, second hand and vintage is my favourite way to shop, since it is definitely the must sustainable one. It prevents clothing from being thrown away and doesn’t take up any resources since no new clothing is produced. Most of the stuff I have bought in the last year is pre-loved in some way and I have developed a habit of re-selling everything I do not need anymore. I would love to donate more, but unfortunately, most companies just re-sell the donated clothes in poorer countries instead of giving them to those who need them the most.
Support ethical and sustainable companies
I do realise that not everything can be bought second hand (let me say one thing: underwear). And even if I am a big fan of it personally, I can also understand that there are people who simply do not want clothes that have been worn before. In this case I recommend that you shop brands that take care of the environment and the workers in the production chain. There are more and more fashion labels that decided not to leave us consumers in the dark about their working conditions, providing us information about how their clothes are made and how they make an effort to not harm the world any further. To make shopping these fashion labels is easy as possible for you, the lovely Justine of Justine kept calm and went vegan has prepared an extensive list of fair fashion labels, offering everything you could possibly need.
Buy to last – rely on quality, not quantity
Last, but not least: The more high-quality items you own, the less items you have to replace. You can still make the best out of the fast fashion pieces you already own, but in the long run, investing in quality items will always pay off. Properly sewn seams and solid fabric have their price, that’s for sure, but they also prevent your favourite clothes from falling apart after just one season, even if you wear them on a regular basis. You will soon realise that investing in quality basics pays off in the end – you will not only create less wast and spare the landfills of this world, but also save money if you buy one expensive t-shirt that lasts for years, compared to you 5€ H&M tee that you have to replace every season.