What is slow fashion?

Here I am with a slow fashion blog and the big question is, of course, what is slow fashion about?

Opposed to fast fashion

Slow fashion is the antonym of fast fashion. It sets focus on the quality and longevity of clothes instead of seeing them as trend-driven disposable goods.

The dominating fast fashion retail model involves producing clothing quickly and cheaply in large quantities, and selling them to the mass market at a low price point. It allows mainstream consumers to access affordable on-trend styles, but it also means compromising on quality, production standards and sustainable use of natural resources. Slow fashion is instead focused on the whole life cycle of clothes from materials, production, use and reuse.

Slowing down

Slow fashion encourages a slower rate of consumption, or rather, shifting from quantity to quality.

It also encourages a slower rate of production. It is ‘slow’ because ensuring quality, producing on a smaller scale and retaining decent working conditions takes time and effort. And that also makes slow fashion more costly compared to fast fashion.

The whole picture

Slow fashion is about seeing the bigger picture. It’s about understanding where our clothes come from and where they end up after our use. It’s about acknowledging the work and resources involved in farming and producing fibre and cloth. It’s about respecting the craftsmanship of making garments, and retaining that knowledge and skill.

Slow fashion is about supporting a sustainable and diverse clothing industry, often starting at the level of the local and small-scale. It’s about using and reusing what we already have, and thinking creatively about making use of local resources.

Consciousness, not self-sufficiency

Slow fashion is not a demand for self-sufficiency. Rest assured, you are not doomed to sew and mend for the rest of your life (unless that’s your thing, of course). But slow fashion does encourage consumer consciousness. Choose your purchases wisely. Buy things you will want to wear for a long time, that are worth repairing when they need it and good enough to sell or give away when you no longer need them.

New business models

Shifting away from the fast fashion retail model involves taking a fresh approach to business.

The New York based company Study changed their business model in 2013, stepping away from the fashion industry standard of producing new collections every season and designing a year in advance. Instead, they began releasing a few styles every month to create a cohesive capsule collection over time, allowing them to avoid the cyclical production peeks at their local factories and build more direct relationships with their retailers. (Read more about it here.)

The Norwegian clothing label Sølv changed their business model from seasoned-based collections sold through retailers, to a pre-order sales model. This allowed them to cut the costly middle link of the retailer and focus on the customer experience, while ensuring high-quality production and sourcing local wool. While they are sadly no longer in production, they openly share their business approach on their site.

Creativity and responsibility

Slow fashion is about being curious and humble, asking questions and challenging our whole approach to clothing. It’s about acknowledging our responsibility towards creating a more sustainable future. But rather than providing a single clear-cut solution, the slow fashion movement opens up to spectre of alternative paths with a few things in common: going slow, focusing on quality and thinking creatively.

That's what I like about it. It's an open-ended exploration. And we can all take part in it, in our own small ways.