What is Slow Fashion? An Ethical Shopping Guide.
Slow Fashion is a combination of ethical principals applied to fashion shopping. It’s also a backlash to the consumerism of the fast paced fashion world.
The clothes industry is the second biggest polluter on our planet. It’s often responsible for unsustainable farming child labor & sweatshops. The need for change was highlighted in 2013 with the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh. The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 1138 workers and 2500 non-fatal injuries. At the time of writing this, huge problems with safety in Bangladesh still exists.
Slow fashion requires the workforce to be treated and paid fairly. Slow fashion is about long lasting clothing too as there is a less environmental impact. It requires using sustainable resources. The environmental impact of goods transportation is also a consideration. All this, with some transparency in the supply chain.
Slow Fashion was a phrase first used in 2007 by Kate Fletcher. Amongst other things, Kate Fletcher is Professor of Sustainability, Design & Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion UK.
Slow fashion is also about style. Style is there to last as opposed to the throw-away mentality of Fast Fashion.
Slow fashion is growing. It’s a movement! Choices can be made by how you shop too. If you would like to join the slow fashion movement, here are some things you can do:
How to shop for slow fashion
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Check out the shops and brands you often use. Do what we always do, Google them. Search for your usual brand/shop followed by “slow fashion” “fair trade” or Ethical”. If your brand is making an effort, you can bet their shouting out. Equally, you’ll soon find out if they’re up to mischief. A lot of company websites have Ethical Sourcing Policy Statements.
Look at the labels
Look out for the fair-trade or the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) symbols. The official fair trade symbols represent a guarantee. Fair Trade isn’t the only labels out there. Shops and brand have their own as well. Look out for labels mentioning organic, sustainable or ethical. Some guarantee a few slow fashion aims, some list them all.
Labels can give you “don’t buy signals” too. If it just says Made in the China then it hardly says a lot. Sorry to single you out China but your average manufacturing wage is just £0.50 per hour!
A good way to take up slow fashion is to use small shops. Boutiques tend to know their customers and suppliers. That’s good for transparency in the supply chain. When you shop at a boutique, you get quality, so clothes last longer. Style is long lasting and boutiques know that. Small shops tend to focus on quality, which is long lasting fashion!
Did you know that in the UK, £100million of used clothing ends up in landfill every year? Making that extra effort to take re-useable clothes to charity shops matters.
Charity shops are great for that bargain. I go to some charity shops in a right posh area! I’ve grabbed some of my best stuff there.
With online shopping, you can check out a companies credentials as you shop. The popularity of ethical shopping has created plenty of small businesses with online stores. We’re one of them. You can see CotswoldGiftware Ethical Sourcing Policy here. Don’t forget the endless opportunities for a second-hand bargain. Finding a local group on Facebook is a popular trend for finding bargains.
Local markets are back in a big way. With the rise of the Farmers Markets so too are Clothes Markets and stalls. In London UK there are over a dozen. Pictured above is my favorite: Portobello Road Market Open all week except Sunday and Thursday afternoon. Fantastic for second-hand clothes, vintage and up and coming designers.
Fair Trade Town
Is your town Fair Trade Designated? Why not badger your local council. Fair trade status is good for business, great for the community and slow fashion too. Find out more