Have you heard about ‘Slow Fashion’? Have you seen the hashtag #slowfashionoctober pop up as you scroll through your Instagram account?
Let's break it down. Slow Fashion is a new wave. It's the disruptor that addresses the industry's ethics and environmental impact – topics that have been taboo until recently.
You know, of course, what ‘fast fashion’ is. It’s the clothing that high street brands and blogshops pump out on a weekly basis. It’s throw-away fashion that doesn’t cost much and isn’t meant to last.
In short, it's waste. Americans throw away over 36kg of clothing per person, per year. That’s 14 million tonnes. In Britain, one recent study illustrated how social media is fuelling fast fashion: One in 10 of those surveyed said they tossed out an outfit after being pictured in it just three times.
There's a crippling cost to all this. The retail clothing industry is one of the most pollutive in the world, coming just behind oil. According reports, the textile industry emits more greenhouse gas emissions than international shipping and aviation combined.
Problems with production and manufacturing include fabric dyes poisoning water tables; microplastics from polyester killing fish and being eaten by people; and the sheer amount of water wasted. To produce just a t-shirt, 2,700 litres must be used to grow enough cotton for that one tee. The issues of exploitation in developing nations cannot be understated, either.
This is where Slow Fashion comes in. Like the slow food movement, it embraces quality over quantity, ethical consideration for how things are made, and methods of production that minimise a brand's footprint on the environment.
The idea of Slow Fashion was first explained by the author and design activist Kate Fletcher in 2007 in her book, Sustainable Fashion and Textiles. The idea goes beyond purchasing items of clothing that are made of sustainable materials (although that has its place, too). Rather, it's about changing your mindset.
It asks you to choose beautiful things that you'll respect, and keep. Having a talented Singapore tailor create your workday suits that you can mix and match and update with different shirts and ties and shoes, that’s Slow Fashion.
@slowfashionoctober encourages you to feature vintage clothes and accessories on your feed. It asks you to redesign or upcycle clothes you’ve already got in your wardrobe, buy clothes and accessories from bespoke, small designers, make your own clothes at home (or getting a tailor to do it for you), and buy quality clothes that will actually last.
Equally, if you’re a couture person, having extreme quality, luxe garments created not only employs dozens of craftspeople, but also creates clothing of timeless, lasting quality that can become a family heirloom. Chanel, Dior, Giambattista Valli, Armani Privé, Valentino, or Maison Martin Margiela, all of these brands fit into the ‘Slow Fashion’ concept in their couture ateliers.
Shopping at fashion brands like Everlane, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Reformation, Hackwith Design House, and Singapore’s own Matter Prints, means you can be sure that your dollars are doing something positive for the environment.
The next time you decide you need to update your wardrobe, think about Slow Fashion. Head to a tailor, or "shop your own wardrobe". Buy investment pieces that really will last so that your kids will wear them.
Where to shop for Slow Fashion:
Casual menswear and womenswear, as well as shoes and bags. Everything is about transparency. You will know exactly where the items are made, what they are made of, who made them, and how much each part cost to make.
Outdoor, swimwear and activewear for men and women. This brand is big on recycled materials, organic cotton, Fair Trade Certified factories and environmental sustainability.
For elegant, minimal and stylish womenswear. The brand is focused on using only 100% organic cotton and linen fibers, and responsible dyes. It is committed to having carbon-positive operations and a no-waste facility by 2020, and is already strong in creating Fair Trade Certified collections using sustainable materials and practices.
For fashion-forward and on-trend womenswear. The brand is known for using sustainable fabrics and upcycled materials, tracks the environmental footprint of clothes, purchases offsets, and pays living wages. One of the most popular Insta-fashion brands that’s actually producing slow fashion.
For classic but versatile womenswear. This is an under-the-radar brand that actually doesn't produce most pieces until you order, meaning there's minimal wastage of materials. Also available are plus size items, swimwear and accessories.
For comfy, fun colourful womenswear. Yes, Singapore’s very own brand focused on using artisan fabrics and prints, then producing the clothes in "fair factories" which meet international compliance standards. The brand also uses natural dyes and block printing to cut down on production pollution.
For beautifully tailored suits and shirts for men and women. Singapore’s No. 1 bespoke tailor creates unique, one-off clothing that is so beautifully made that you will want to wear it forever.
For stylish bespoke handmade leather shoes for men and women. Perfect to go with your bespoke suit, these shoes are hand-crafted from ethically sourced leathers and canvas.