This past October, I started a new and exciting series on my blog called Anything Goes. In this series, I am going to be tackling topics that are taboo or uncomfortable for many to talk about, and will be including guest posts, interviews, and some of my own writing. I plan to address stigmas and issues that surround subjects like feminism, mental health, and more, in hopes that they can bring light and fuel conversation between me and you and others. Look out for a new installment to this Anything Goes series every last Sunday of the month 🙂
Latest Anything Goes Posts:
Unlike the typical Anything Goes post, this installment is not about breaking stigmas, but rather breaking misconceptions about the buzz-topic of slow fashion.
To understand slow fashion, one must first understand its more widely practiced competitor: fast fashion. Fast fashion is the practice of producing clothing quickly and cheaply to keep up with the trends of the moment. The problem with this practice is that the majority of fast fashion brands manufacture their clothes in factories in developing countries. These factories are called sweatshops, where workers, typically women and some children, are paid extremely low wages for long hours and under poor conditions.
Also, fast fashion is bad for the environment. Normally, the clothing is not eco-friendly as it is made quickly and with the least cost necessary. Another effect of the mass and cheap production method is that the clothes are lower quality, meaning consumers will most likely cycle through them quickly, leading to the unwanted clothes being discarded in landfills across the globe. Un-bought and leftover clothing is disposed of this way as well.
On the other side of the fashion realm, lies slow fashion. Slow fashion is the decision to buy higher quality pieces of clothing less often. It has progressively become a popular issue in the online world, especially with its sub-groups of sustainable fashion and ethical fashion.
Sustainable fashion is environmentally friendly produced clothing. Whether that be creating clothing pieces from used items such as water bottles or shopping second-hand in thrift stores, there are many ways a brand can go about being sustainable. Ethical fashion is a broad term used to describe all means of a brand’s ethical production chain from design to manufacturing. The term addresses things such as working conditions, exploitation, and fair trade and whether they are done ethically or not. Both sustainable and ethical fashion intertwine to form the concept of slow fashion.
3 QUICK FACTS ABOUT FAST FASHION
-Americans buy more than 80 billion new items of clothing each year, and the average American throws away 82 pounds of clothing each year. Most of this clothing is not biodegradable, which means it sits in the landfills for at least 200 years (The Green Hub).
-As of 2015, the fashion industry was in the top 7 most polluting industries in the world (The Ethical Unicorn).
-H&M, a large fast fashion brand, only needs to use 2% of its annual profit (as of 2016) to pay all its workers in Cambodia the monthly salary they need to meet a living wage standard in that country (Labour Behind the Label). Facts like this are not uncommon among other large fast fashion retailers.
Action Items: Read more about fast fashion HERE. Watch The True Cost documentary on Netflix to gain a better perspective on what fast fashion truly does to the workers involved and the environment.
SLOW FASHION MISCONCEPTIONS
As I became moreintrigued with slow fashion this past year, I realized there were more than afew misconceptions people have about the topic. I reached out to a few of the slow fashion bloggers I follow on Instagramand asked them to talk about a misconception they’ve encountered.
“The biggest misconception I had about starting my slow fashion journey was that it would be incredibly expensive. Most of the sustainable or ethical clothing brands I knew of were quite expensive, but what I didn’t think about was how much less I would be buying overall. Instead of consistently trend shopping or impulse buying, I shop my own closet and only buy something new when I need to. Since I’, buying so much less I can actually afford to spend more on a higher quality piece of clothing. Also thrifting!! Secondhand fashion is great for the earth and even better for your wallet.” -Megan from @tunesandtunics
“A misconception I’ve had about slow fashion is that you can’t really find any new or current style that will compliment the fashion in today’s world. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Most of today’s style anyway is taking inspiration from the past, and honestly, style is about creating your own look from the bottom up. Whenever I thrift, I know I’m making my own unique look that rarely other people will have; that will turn heads and maybe even start a new trend! I love slow fashion because it’s DIY, sustainable, ethical, and is cost-effective.” -Emma from @simplyintrospective
“‘Fast fashion’ refers to quick consumption. A friend told me that she was under the impression that “fast fashion” referred to the consumption of such items, i.e. the way people buy and quickly disgard of items. In reality, while this behavior does frequently occur with fast fashion, the phrase is generally used to describe the production methods of clothing brands. Many brands use sketchy techniques to quickly produce a huge number of items, which causes serious concerns regarding working conditions for laborers and the environmental effects of over-produced clothing. Keeping your clothes from fast fashion consumers for long-term use can help, since hopefully that will eventually cause them to produce fewer clothes; however, the best way to address the problems caused by fast fashion is to not purchase clothing from those brands to begin with.” -Brigette from @brigetteblack
“When I first started my journey into ethical fashion, I thought that I had to go out and buy from a bunch of sustainable fashion labels. But since I couldn’t really afford that, I thought I couldn’t participate in this movement—thankfully, I realized that actually there are plenty of ways to be more responsible in our fashion choices. First and foremost, buying less drastically reduces our environmental impact; and then when we do need something, shopping secondhand first (my favorite spot is ThreadUp.com) is a great option since thrifting reduces the need for resources for new clothes and saves clothing from ending up in the landfill; then of course if there’s something we need that we can’t find secondhand, looking for ethically made alternatives is a great way to support brands that care for the people making the clothes (or jewelry, or whatever it may be) and for the environment.” -Elizabeth from @conciousstyle
Elizabeth also gave a great tip for those looking to delve into their own slow fashion journey: “The biggest tip I’d give to anyone wanting to start with ethical fashion is to think about what values are most important to you in your life. Is it human rights? Saving the environment? Animal welfare? And then think about how your clothing purchases can align with those values. For instance, if human rights are something you’re passionate about, look for Fair Trade certified brands and dig into brand “about” pages to see if they’re being transparent about the treatment of workers in their factories.”
SLOW FASHION BRANDS TO CHECK OUT
–Everlane: This clothing company carries everything from pants to shoes to jackets, and they’re all sustainably made. Highly recommend for your work wardrobe or everyday wear.
–Reformation: Known for its beautiful, European-style dresses, Reformation is completely sustainable and has everything from denim to dresses that are perfect for a night-out or a fun vacation.
–Girlfriend: A brand with gorgeous workout sets made from recycled water bottles and fish nets, as well as tees made from cotton industry waste.
–Dazey: A sustainable graphic tee and dress company that excels in activism through their tee slogans and Instagram. Their site also carries ethically made products such as earrings, jumpsuits, headbands, and more from other slow fashion companies.
-Your local thrift store: While not as glamorous as new clothing, thrift stores are a sustainable way of attaining new pieces for your wardrobe. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the trendy clothes you can find thrifting.
Use this post as a foundation for your slow fashion knowledge. Now go out and do your own research to educate yourself! As this side of the fashion industry grows and becomes more accessible, it’s important to be aware of how you can shop slow to help the environment and workers around the world.
Don’t forget to check out the latest installments of my Anything Goes series. The posts are linked at the beginning of this one!