“Buy Less, Buy Better”
The Slow Fashion Movement, Versus Fast Fashion Powerhouses
The 22nd century has technologically created a platform for a digital generation to emerge. We have all embraced social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, in which everyone can have their own individual stage to express their personal style. You can find the #OOTD (outfit of the day) tag which was at first synonymously only associated with fashion blogs, tagged underneath the daily photos on the social media profiles of students and people from all different walks of life. Editorial style can no longer be deemed exclusive to just the fashion world’s darlings such as Kate Moss and Anna Wintour.
Following this trend of our digital generations desire to express our individuality, it has also given rise to the “fast fashion” movement. Fast fashion is apparel that quickly captures the current runway trends, and is sold at retailers at price point in which breaking the bank is no longer necessary. No longer do we have to wait an entire year to see the following season’s trends, as they can appear at retailers such as Zara, H&M, Forever 21 and Topshop in the blink of an eye. Gone are the days of going into a store and seeing the same products for an entire season. If you go shopping in Zara and see something that you like, it would be wise to purchase it in that moment because chances are by the following week it will already be replaced by an entirely new collection. Fast fashion retailers have allowed us to quench our insatiable thirst for the newest and trendiest pieces, all at an affordable price.
This has been an era in which fashion has never been more accessible to the masses. However, the fast fashion movement does have its negative side. We are all guilty of buying an overabundance of cheap fashionable pieces which we wear only once or twice, and eventually leave to collect dust at the back of our closet. The fact is that the majority of the pieces that are sold at fast fashion retailers are meant to be worn only in a “moment”. As quickly as they become a trend, they also all too quickly become dated. This has only encouraged us in the developed world to become more and more of consumerist culture. We may have a lot, but it is still for most never enough. I am sure many of you like me have closets and drawers crammed with clothing, yet it always seems like you have nothing to wear. What this all really boils down to is the easily disposable nature that goes in hand with the fast fashion movement.
On the other end of the spectrum a “Slow Fashion” movement has emerged in recent years, a term which was coined by author and eco textiles consultant Kate Fletcher. This fashion movement she has stated is “not time-based, but quality-based”. This movement encourages designers and retailers to develop apparel with actual longevity. Rather than selling stuff that is super trendy, this movement is meant to inspire us to more consciously think of our purchases and invest in more timeless, classic garments.
The slow fashion movement is built on having retailers create fewer collections, with an emphasis on a greater degree of quality in their production. By having retailers invest in manufacturing garments with more sustainable, luxurious fabrics and made with a higher level of craftsmanship we would end up purchasing pieces that are not as easily disposable. The cost to purchase garments made in accordance with the slow fashion movement, would cost more for us as the consumers. However, “by buying less, buying better” we would have less of a need to purchase too many new pieces each season and just build upon the classic wearable pieces we already own in our wardrobes.
The investment in better manufacturing practices would also require better trained, skillful workers. As a result of this companies, would have to pay their manufacturing workers a higher rate of pay for their work. Fast fashion has had a negative reputation for encouraging unethical work practices in developing countries, by paying workers extremely low wages, unsafe work environments and sweat shop environments. This would in theory help to dispel this practice. The slow fashion movement would allow us not only to own better crafted garments, but also have a more honest conscious in knowing our garments were not manufactured by an exploited worker.
The slow fashion movement also asks us to consider investing in more vintage pieces. Vintage is a trend that has reemerged in popularity in the past decade, with many a fashionistas scavenging second hand stores and EBay for treasures just waiting to be found. This is a way to reuse clothing in a way that produces less waste, and encourages us to once again develop our own individual style. Another valid point to consider that is vintage clothing has only been so sustainable from decades past, pre-fast fashion, because of the craftsmanship that went into the garments. With the poor quality that fast fashion has, will fashion from our generation even be able to make it to the vintage stage for future generations?
In the past few years I have attempted to become a better fashion consumer. I am more likely to restrain myself from making impulse purchases, and saving my money to invest in pieces I know that will make through the long haul with me. Yes admittedly I still do every once in a while buy something trendy from fast fashion retailers, but only limit myself to a few pieces. I have found from my experience that the classic pieces that I have invested in that were at a higher price point, but made with better quality have been consistently worn more often than items that I purchased from places such as H&M. And unlike their fast fashion counterparts, these pieces despite being worn time and time again have very little wear and tear. Fast fashion will without a doubt continue to prevail in the future, but nevertheless I think it is important for us all to start taking a more conscious attitude towards what and how much we buy.