hat: old , shirt: Buttercream Clothing , wool blazer: thrifted , straw clutch: old, pants: Harley Jae
When it comes to the conversation around Fast Fashion, it often goes like this…Fast Fashion is bad and therefore those who consume fast fashion must be bad too, right? Wrong.
Over the past few years, I have taken the deep dive into committing to change my consumer behaviour, moving away from fast fashion, and making purchases with mindfulness and need over desire and want. So let’s break things down a bit.
What is Fast Fashion? : “Fast fashion is a term used to describe a highly profitable business model based on replicating catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, and mass-producing them at low cost. The term ‘fast fashion’ is also used to generically describe the products of the fast fashion business model.” ~ Wikipedia
Examples of fast fashion companies: H&M, Zara, Old Navy, The GAP, Walmart
What makes fast fashion desirable? : Cheap and affordable. Current Trends.
What is Slow Fashion? : “Slow fashion, is a concept describing the opposite to fast fashion and part of the “slow movement”, which advocates for manufacturing in respect to people, environment and animals.” ~ Wikipedia
Examples of slow fashion brands: Free Label, Oge Ajibe, Franc, Nettles Tale, Buttercream Clothing
What makes slow fashion desirable? : Supporting small, local brands. Eco-friendly fabrics and practices. Quality items that will last years.
The first thing you may notice is that the first list is of giant, multi-million dollar, corporations that are household names. The second list is of small brands you may never heard of before. These shops are just a small sample, (of brands I personally love and shop with) but you see the difference.
I find there can be a level of arrogance and superiority with the slow fashion movement. It can feel elite and for the privileged. For many sustainable brands, their target market is young, thin, white, tall, and will ample disposable income. That is a niche I don’t fit into. So, how do we do it? How do we make our wardrobes more sustainable? The number one thing we can ALL do, is to SLOW DOWN. We need to wear what we have. Wear our clothes more and care for them well. We need to buy less and buy mindfully.
For years, I was a Hyperconsumer. I shopped weekly. I happily lived with debt and justified it like Carrie Bradshaw would. “I like my money right where I can see it; hanging in my closet.” I felt style pride. I felt like I wore my worth. I always had something new to wear. Three hundred dollar jeans? Yup! Multiple pairs. Have one hundred pairs of shoes? Sure did. A new dress or top for a night out? Absolutely. This was what I thought success looked like. A drool worthy wardrobe. Long story short, I have drastically changed my ways but it has taken many years and there can still be slip ups.
I find it interesting that when we make changes in our lives, we can’t fathom why others haven’t had the same awakening as us. We quickly forget we were them only a short time ago. We quickly forget our own reasons for not making changes. Reasons like our financial security, knowledge, access, mental health, physical health, accessibility, and more. By shaming and blaming the average person who wants to do better but may not be in a position to do so or has barriers we can’t understand, only shows your desire to exercise dominance and superiority. This method will not educate, it will only isolate. As the saying goes, we need millions of people doing sustainability imperfectly rather than only a few doing it perfectly.
Case in point, one of my struggles as a 41 year old, size 16 woman, who has had two c-sections, hovers somewhere between straight size and plus size, and currently spends all day everyday at home during a global pandemic, is pants. Pants are a bitch for me to buy. Comfortable, I feel good in them, they look cute on me, I’ll wear these all the time pants, are HARD for me to buy. I’ve been trying real hard to find cute but comfy secondhand pants. I found some that are ok, but have had some total busts too. I’ve also been trying to not take online fit guesses with more expensive, sustainable brands, so was opting for secondhand. Honestly, the frustration was real and so was the self esteem. Then came the pants I didn’t know I needed. Plus Size shop, Penningtons, surprised me with a box of their Activewear pants. Thick cotton/spandex fabric, slim leg/legging like cut that our perfect for my everyday at home life. I put them on and instantly felt so good. They fit! They were comfortable! They breathed! And I had some fun styling them up! Are they a perfectly sustainable option? No. But they are the pants I couldn’t find and I will wear them well and wear them often. I sometimes wonder what’s worse, buying multiple pairs of secondhand pants that don’t fit or a great fitting pair of pants that will be worn over and over but might not be the most sustainable option?
Education and conversation in any topic where we make changes to our daily lives and habits, for the greater good of the planet, animals, and it’s people are never easy nor a black and white issue. Passionate cases are often made on both sides. An acquaintance of mine I was following on social media, had a personal ah-ha moment and became vegan. Her feed quickly changed to horrific videos of animal cruelty, demonizing of anyone who eats meat, and shaming others, for what she perceived and conveyed to be, selfish stupidity. Should we speak up about injustices to our planet? Yes. Should we make changes and share those changes with those around us? Of course. Should we shame and belittle others for not being in the same mindset as us? No. Shaming others does not work. If you are trying to eat more plant based (like me), but still eat some meat, celebrate the changes you have made. You’re doing the work with where you are at. If $20 Old Navy jeans is what you can afford and they fit you well and you feel amazing in them? Do it! Wear them often, take care of them, mend them, and treat them with the same care you would a more expensive pair.
The biggest take away I’d like to leave you with is this. When we stop treating our clothing as disposable, we automatically SLOW DOWN our fashion roll. We buy less. We shop mindfully. We create a personal style. We free up the clutter. We make getting dressed fun again. This will all lead to less clothing in land fills, less garments being produced and wasted, and less hyper consumerism. Every item we choose to buy and bring into our home is our responsibility. Our purchases drive the industries we support by creating demand. It is up to us to consider the full life cycle of each garment we buy. Where was it made? Who made it? How long and often will I wear this garment? How do I care for this garment? How will I “dispose” of this item when I no longer find it useful? We are not bad people for living within our means, buying what fits us, and choosing from what is accessible. We are good people by making changes, being more mindful, educating ourselves about our purchases, and slowing down.
To read about my slow fashion journey, click here.