This post is going to cover a bit on the importance of shopping slow fashion. If you are someone who already knows what Slow Fashion is and why it’s a current movement around the globe feel free to scroll past that information and onto the information for great sustainable fashion brands and/or outfit ideas! My goal is to not only spread awareness but also provide my readers with help in starting their sustainable fashion journey. All photos you see throughout this post include slow fashion pieces!
First and foremost, what is Slow Fashion? Slow Fashion is a bit of a movement. It is a movement towards economical, and sustainable garments. It’s ultimately, the alternative to fast fashion and part of what has been called the current “slow movement“; this movement advocates for principles similar to the ideas behind slow food, such as good quality, clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers.
Second, why is this a movement? Today’s mainstream fashion industry relies on globalized, mass production. Trends are designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price. With retailers selling the latest fashion trends at very low prices, consumers are easily swayed to purchase more items more frequently. But this overconsumption comes with a hidden price tag, and it is the environment and workers in the supply chain that pay the most.
Many of these companies are selling their product at a very low price which means a few things:
- The Quality of your purchase is lacking. This point is simple, it will last you a few wears and washes before it begins to fall apart. Who wants to buy something they really like to only be able to wear it a few times before it’s stretched out, seams start to rip or color starts to fade? Not I! Think of the big name, inexpensive brands with all the current trends, H&M, Zara, Forever 21, etc. The workmanship is shoddy due to mass production in a factory full of workers who are probably not being paid adequately which leads me to our next point;
- Inadequate Working Conditions are behind your cheap, up to the current trend, clothing items. Many of these fast fashion brands’ clothing is made in countries without strict labor laws, and utilize cheap, exploitative labor. These sweatshop labor conditions are found in some of our favorite brands. H&M’s clothing is made primarily in Bangladesh where the brand’s suppliers have consistently skimped on safety regulations for their employees, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of factory workers in fires and structural collapses in the past few years alone. So theoretically, someone who sewed the hem of your favorite H&M piece may have died for nothing but a disgustingly low wage. Care for another example? A Los Angeles based factory for Forever 21 was brought under fire for its working conditions after a worker claimed she was not paid by the hour, but by item sewn; she was paid 12 cents for a vest that sold for $13.80. Now if a company doesn’t care about the damage it’s doing to its employees it is definitely not going to give a hoot about the damage it is doing to the environment;
A Negative Environmental Impact is also the effect of affordable, current clothing styles. Americans are purchasing five times the amount of clothing than they did in 1980. Due to low costs and ever-changing fashion trends, this continuous purchasing of new merchandise is resulting in more and more textiles being discarded yearly. The average American household produces 70 pounds of textile waste every year. When you compare that number to the entire country, there is roughly 10.5 million tons of textile waste being thrown away. Despite donations and recycling, the accumulation of waste in the world’s landfills is causing negative effects on the environment, and it is not the only environmental concern that the fast fashion industry creates. Throughout each and every stage of textile production, lasting environmental harm is caused to the aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric ecosystems; this is due to the release of greenhouse gases from the byproduct of global transportation, the utilization of heavy machinery, and the release of hazardous gases, various pesticides, and dyes into the aquatic environment. There are natural resources in jeopardy and forests and ecosystems being damaged or destroyed for such things as fiber production.
So what are you trying to tell me? Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to current day and the fashion industry has created 52 ‘micro-seasons’ per year – hence FAST Fashion. This is to make you feel out of the loop! The fashion industry is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after one week; with new trends coming out every week, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. And if you’re not someone who cares if they’re slightly out of trend, because fast fashion giants are dependent on the consumers’ desire for new clothing to wear, they will purposely design their items to fall apart in one or two washes forcing you to go out and buy again. These Fast Fashion Giants are playing you the consumer and in the process, hurting not only you but their workers and our environment.
What can I do about it? Support the slow, sustainable, economic fashion movement best you can! This was actually one of my goals for the new year and I’ll be honest, it isn’t always an easy one. Generally speaking, seeking slow fashion designers comes with a bit of a price but I’m here to say, It’s Worth It! My clothes fit better, they’re more comfortable, and I know they will last longer because they’re made out of quality materials by individuals that take pride in their work! On top of that, I like knowing that I’m supporting a company that’s trying to do good for the world and many times, I’m supporting a small business owner.
Alright, what kind of brands do you suggest? Look for Fairtrade and Ethical clothing brands! Fairtrade Certified means that from production to purchase the process of the goods are an ethical trade that puts people and planet first. A choice for Fair Trade Certified™ goods is always a choice to support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment. Almost every company has an explanation of their labor practices and environmental impact if you take a good look for them! ie. Heres Edie Bauers policy.
Here are some examples:
I am currently acting as a brand ambassador for Dazey LA, a small, woman-owned, sustainable clothing line out of Los Angeles, California. Each item is made to order and is designed by the very transparent owner herself, Dani Dazey. If you shop my link above and use the code FORTIER at checkout, you will receive 10% off of your order and I will earn 10% in commission. Support this awesome chick on her mission to empower women and create awesome graphics that encourage sustainable living!
TAMGA Designs is another sustainable fashion brand I am enjoying! Something I really like about this brand is that they keep track of their sustainability with each item made/purchased. Right on their website, you will see CO2 emissions avoided, liters of water saved and kilowatts of energy saved. Their fabrics are a combination of eco-friendly, biodegradable, anti-bacterial, wrinkle resistant, non-GMO, ethically sourced and use zero pesticides. Their dresses are bright and beautiful and so very flattering!
Large, well-known companies such as Patagonia and Cotopaxi are also Fairtrade certified. Patagonia has pioneered quality clothing with organic, recycled, and upcycled fibers for years; if you’re looking for great outdoor textiles this is the place! Cotopaxi, a newer outdoor focused company, creates styles out of scrap fabrics and insulation out of llama fibers. By taking an inventive, considered approach to product design, Cotopaxi believes they can help make a positive impact on the world.
Other Fairtrade, slow fashion supporting brands include Apolis (Mens!), Bead & Reel, Eileen Fisher, Father’s Daughter, Gamine Workwear, Karen Kane, Krochet Kids Intl., Levis, Nisolo, Nudie Jeans, Oliberté (shoes), People Tree, PrAna, The Root Collective (shoes), and so much more; just do your research! Keep in mind, many companies, such as the Swedish based Dr. Denim and working hard to be more sustainable; support these companies to help them reach their goals!
What about my ‘Fast Fashion’ pieces? Wear them until they fall apart and then do your best to recycle every piece you can. If you’re tired of something or simply don’t want it anymore, donate it to someone who wants or needs it instead of sending it to the landfill. You might always find the need for a few fast fashion pieces, whether its an affordability thing or for convenience; just do your best to minimize your fast fashion consumption!
Questions to ask yourself: Who made my clothes? Whats more important, quality or quantity?
My Main Goal: Decrease