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Slow Fashion Movement: How To Add Sustainable Clothing To Your Style

Posted on in Fashion by Mariusz Falkiewicz

Slow Fashion Movement: How To Add Sustainable Clothing To Your Style

If you just happen to be getting into slow fashion and are looking for ideas on how best to tackle the reformation of your wardrobe or if you are looking for ways to incorporate ethical clothing brands into your daily ensembles, then we've prepared a guide to help you change some of the bad habits you may have developed over the years, assisting your smooth transition into a sustainable fashionista.

While there are numerous ways to introduce sustainability into personal clothing and to become an eco-fashion warrior, we've settled on a set of fundamentals that are accessible to just about anyone looking to be a part of the slow fashion revolution. Our recommendations revolve around cultivating a mindset focused on choosing quality over quantity, developing a timeless, minimalist style, and building a capsule wardrobe.

But, first of all:

What is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion is a conscious effort to move away from the excessive consumerism encouraged by the fast fashion industry through changing consumer behavior and forcing the industry to embrace sustainability and to produce high-quality fashion. Unlike fast fashion, the primary focus of slow fashion is a continued commitment to creating fewer collections per calendar year, with pieces made from high-quality materials that lengthen the life of the garment. Slow fashion is founded on the principles of conscious consumerism, environmental sustainability, and industry transparency, with design and production methods ensuring ethical, quality manufacturing.

Now, with the definition out of the way, let's delve into the practical ways of employing the concepts behind slow fashion into real life and eliminating bad habits from your style once and for all.

Choose Quality Over Quantity - Your Journey to Ethical Fashion Begins Here

If there is a single, most important message to take away from this article, and a single most important aspect of slow fashion to focus on, it is this - Buy less. Choose well. Make it Last. This motto perfectly embodies the philosophy behind the movement.

Consider this:

Despite having an overabundance of clothes at our disposal everyone likes to wear their favorite select few pieces which get all the attention throughout the season. As a result, we utilize only a small portion of our wardrobe while the rest of our clothes rarely see the light of day. Curious to know just how much gets stashed away with little to no use? A recent survey by Weight Watches reveals that about 55 percent of the clothes in an average woman's wardrobe, and 47 percent in an average man's, are never worn.

That's about £10.5 billion worth of unworn clothes, the study claims, or nearly as much as the entire gross domestic product of Malta neatly stacked away inside of wardrobes - and that's just in the UK alone. It is a staggering number, especially when considering the potential environmental impact and the waste created when all the under-utilized clothes eventually end up in a landfill.

Vivienne Westwood Quote Against Fast Fashion: 'Buy Less. Choose Well. Make it Last.'

Since economic discipline and mindfulness are at the center of sustainability, it is easy to understand why slow fashion proponents caution against impulsive fashion spending, especially when it comes to buying poor quality clothing, shoes, and accessories. It simply does not work in the long term, neither for us, the consumers, nor for our already overstrained biosphere with its finite natural resources.

However, even putting the environmental benefits of reducing the rampant consumerism aside, there are other, immediate advantages to be had from resisting the temptation of buying on impulse. Foremost, it saves a lot of money that could be put to a better use elsewhere. It frees up space, declutters your home, and helps to keep your mind focused on the more important and significant aspects of life. Finally, it feels remarkable to be a part of a positive, transformative movement and support genuine, high-quality fashion designers and brands that care about the environment and produce sustainable products that are meant to last for many seasons.

Therefore, we believe, that the quest to incorporate sustainability into personal fashion should begin by assuming the role of an active and conscious consumer. One, who will ask the right questions prior to making a purchase, such as for example: Do I really need this? How often will I wear it? Was the product made to last?

To further avoid getting sucked into the frenzy of chasing after the latest shopping trends it is essential to work on developing a personal, timeless style.

Develop a Minimalist Fashion Style For a Personal Approach to Sustainable Apparel

I think we can all agree that fashion trends quickly lose their initial appeal after enough people jump on the same-style bandwagon. After all, who wants to be just another face in the crowd?

While the short-lived fashion fads and seasonal trends align perfectly with the marketing agendas of the big brands, granting them the ultimate control of the market, repeat opportunities to dictate what's in vogue, and rewarding them with perpetual sales cycles, it could be argued, that for fashion as a form of self-expression, it is a setback. The excessive number of similar-looking, "must-have" trends, which are constantly forced into the market by fast fashion cartels deemphasizes the importance of creativity and simultaneously deters the act of self-expression, which, many believe, are the quintessential cornerstones of contemporary fashion.

You have most likely heard of the truism accredited to Yves Saint Laurent: 'Fashions fade, style is eternal'? Surely, you've also noticed how iconic figures, from Marilyn Monroe to Steve Jobs developed their own approach to fashion by assuming a unique style which eventually became synonymous with their personas. Whether the aim was to be provocative and flamboyant (Marilyn), or to look pragmatic and casual (Jobs), the idea is universal - a well-defined, personal style, which compliments the silhouette and projects character; transcends seasons and surpasses the artificially-dictated industry trends.

Yves Saint Laurent Quote On Importnance of Having a Personal Fashion Style

Since fashion is primarily a visual language of individual self-expression, how you dress should emphasize who you are. Therefore, finding your own unique voice which reflects your character and "personalizes" your appearance through fashion trumps the act of copying the latest advertisements for the sake of looking trendy for a season. Sure, developing your own style will take some time and extra effort, but doesn't everything else worth pursuing? In the end, it really is about the journey itself and about how you choose to share your personal story through the way you dress.

Rest assured that there are outstanding tools and techniques to help you in your quest to get inspired: techniques that zero in on a unique look, and help to create a perfect personal wardrobe. The one we recommend to start with is the idea of building a capsule wardrobe.

Capsule Wardrobe - Your Sustainable Clothes Ready for Everyday

It should come as no surprise, that we are huge enthusiasts and proponents of capsule wardrobes. The concept ties seamlessly into everything that was already discussed and fits perfectly into the mindset of a slow fashionista. In our opinion capsule wardrobe strikes an ideal balance between minimalism, sustainability, and practicality. Thus creating one, should provide the much-needed structure to carry out your new plan, design your outfits and stay organized.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, then capsule wardrobe is "a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces."

Image of capsule wardrobe: sustainable fashion applied on personal level

You could start building your personal style and assembling your private capsule wardrobe by investing strategically in a few pieces to center your wardrobe around. We recommend selecting well-made, timeless pieces that will cover all aspects of life, from professional to casual. If you are not sure where to start, take advice from Susie Faux who popularized the concept of the capsule wardrobe. She recommends choosing the "essential pieces that can be easily mixed and matched to create many varieties of different outfits and looks, so, for example, one type of pants or skirt becomes a part of many ensembles that actually look very differently and can be worn through the few seasons."

To stay relevant and timely it helps to accent and adjust your ensembles seasonally with new pieces, accessories or details showing that you are aware of the current style and that you speak the language of contemporary fashion. It will signal to the world that you engage with new trends by flawlessly incorporating them it into your personal style, yet you do not overly dependent on them to look exquisite.

The subject of capsule wardrobes is extremely broad and fun to discuss. We will be returning to it frequently in our subsequent articles to examine its many practical applications. We believe it is the most effective path to personal, sustainable fashion and it offers many intermediate advantages. For example, it simplifies the selection and organization of daily outfits, which as we know, is a huge timesaver in the morning.

Don't Be Shamed Into Buying Ethical - Be Critical and Honest With The Brands and With Yourself

Yes, we said it! Don't be shamed into buying sustainable clothes, shoes or accessories if you don't like them. Buying something solely out of hope to contribute to the success of sustainable fashion is a flawed idea. For one, the chances are you'll rarely wear what you don't enjoy, so the behavior becomes an exercise in wasteful spending and goes directly against our first principle to "buy less, choose well". More importantly, however, it actually weakens slow fashion brands and reduces their chances of gaining a sufficient market share to become successful and thrive.

Think about it:

If all sales are generated by the inferior products, then the brand that created them will never stand a chance against any real competitors. Just because a brand is sustainable, or involved in social entrepreneurship does not warrant its success, nor oblige the customers to buy its products. Slow fashion is still a commercial activity at the end of the day and the products introduced by ethical brands need to stand on their own and be appealing and desirable to a wide audience. Only then will the movement gain sufficient strength and win a wide enough adoption rate to put the industry on the path towards a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible fashion.

If you like a particular brand or its initiative, but not their products, then be genuine about it. Contact them and let them know what prevents you from making a purchase. Honest feedback goes a long way in helping companies thrive and it's a critical aspect when it comes to longterm product improvement. If a cause is particularly important to you then consider volunteering your time and expertise to help the brand grow.

As a last word of advice, we recommend applying an extra level of scrutiny to companies who eco wash their product lines. Be critical of brands that keep promising to introduce sustainability into their supply chains while continuing to release 16 to 20 collections per year. No matter what the PR spin is, it is in no way a sustainable or ethical business model.

Pay It Forward - Support the Slow Fashion Movement by Engaging Your Community

As consumers, we often like to blame big companies and governments for the current state of affairs and the environmental crisis we're faced with. It's always easier to point the finger and to blame others. It is worth remembering, however, that markets are co-created by all participants. Sadly, there was a huge demand created for cheap, disposable clothing and fast fashion companies delivered on it. Now it is up to us to reverse that trend. Collectively we are responsible for it.

Every movement is only as strong as its members, and whether slow fashion can reach a critical mass gaining sufficient support to affect the industry at large is yet to be seen, but don't assume a passive role in the process. Things have gotten out of control and we can no longer wait and hope for others to fix it.

If you believe in the premise behind sustainable, ethical fashion and wish to support the slow fashion movement then engage with its brands and help to raise awareness about them in your social circles. Become a smart and conscious consumer and chose with your wallet what's right for you and for the environment.

Woman walking through tall grass: metaphor for sustainable fashion

For any meaningful transformation to take place and hold, the change must happen gradually. It would be foolish to assume that adopting an ascetic lifestyle, or fashion for that matter, will bring a broad ethical renaissance to the fashion industry. After all, prohibition never really worked as a countermeasure for alcoholism and neither will boycotting your local fast fashion chains or wearing hemp-only clothing.

Instead, keep an open mind to new ideas, new designers, and new brands and give them a fair chance. Make a conscious effort to ask the right questions. Understand what the brand stands for, what materials and production techniques it pursues. Finally, evaluate the product quality, and ask yourself whether it fits into your style. If it feels right, give it a chance and invest in the product. It might just become a favorite piece in your closet.

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