Every year, each Australian gets around 27 kg of new clothing, of which they discard around 23 kg. In the big picture, they discard a total of up to 800,000 tonnes of textiles and clothing, in which 90% ends up in the landfills.
Due to prices of clothing being incredibly cheap, clothes have been seen as easily disposable. In fact, study shows around 90% of our clothing gets thrown away before it is necessary.
This is what we call “fast fashion,” and it has existed long before “slow fashion brands” ever existed, creating a large scale of social and environmental problems all over the world.
- Untreated toxic wastewater being a byproduct from textile factories that produce fast fashion; these chemicals contain arsenic, mercury and lead that harms both aquatic and human life.
- Microfibres and microplastics get washed away from synthetic fabrics, which are then consumed by aquatic organisms that are eaten by fishes, which are eaten by humans. Talk about “plastics” in our food chain.
- Greenhouse gases from the manufacturing and transporting of millions of fast fashion products every year.
- Over 11 chemicals are discovered by the Greenpeace Detox campaign in many of the fast fashion clothes. These chemicals are known to cause cancer and disrupt our hormones.
- Fast fashion is against garment workers who work in extremely hazardous working conditions. They are working unbearably long hours at a terrible below-minimum wage.
As we slowly recognize the problem that comes with fast fashion, our response is the opposite - “slow fashion.”
It’s a trendy term that was coined in 2007, which meant to move away from cheap, disposable, fast fashion. Instead, to support sustainably sourced and locally made slow fashion brands.
What are Slow Fashion Brands?
As opposed to fast fashion brands, slow fashion brands focus on sustainability. They create clothing that is kind to the environment, to the animals, and to the plants.
Here are some of the characteristics of slow fashion brands.
1. Minimal Inventory
Slow fashion brands prefer quality over quantity, which means they create intentional designs for a very targeted customer base. Instead of trying to please a large undefined market for the sake of increasing profits, their business model relies more on quality instead of high volume. This means less wastage or discardment of clothes that eventually end up in landfills.
2. Doesn’t Drop New Products Every Week
Slow fashion brands don’t produce new inventory week after week. Aside from not relying on a large volume to create profit, they also don’t rely on high turnovers or dropping new products very often.
3. High-Quality and Timeless Products
Slow fashion brands create thoughtful, unique, and timeless designs. These are designs the people can wear without worrying about trends. They also promote a core collection that barely changes every year. There’s no such thing as FOMO or urgency as these high quality collections are offered every year.
Not only that, these products are also made of high quality materials that last for a long time, with features like reinforced seams and tailoring for optimal fit. They make sure that these are products that their target market will love for a very long time.
4. They Promote Sustainable Fashion
Slow fashion brands often use materials that are eco friendly, and does not harm the planet. They could also repurpose old or discarded garments and textiles. Their method of production could include a “made-to-order” model which reduces garment wastage. In short, slow fashion brands promote sustainable fashion, which encourages the use of eco-friendly materials and methods.
5. They Create Gender Neutral Clothing
Slow fashion brands cut costs on design time, fabric sourcing, and production by creating gender neutral clothing. Moreover, creating gender neutral clothing promotes freedom of style in dressing without the fear of expressing one’s identity. It’s high-quality and expressive clothing that can be worn by anyone and everyone, including both gender or a non-binary person.
Fast Fashion Brands vs Slow Fashion Brands: What’s the Difference?
Here are some of the differences between fast fashion brands and slow fashion brands.
Relied more on synthetic materials, and cheaper fabric that have a negative impact to the environment
Often locally-sourced, natural, organic, and recycled materials.
Designed to be worn for one to two seasons at most
Meant to last many years, or even a lifetime
Manufacturing practices have negative environmental impact, e.g., excessive waste and pollution. May also have negative impact to workers who are overworked, underpaid, and exposed to harmful chemicals
Eco-friendly production practices. Products are often made-to-order so there is no excessive waste
Low wages and poor working conditions
Higher pay and better working conditions
Because the materials used are often cheaper and low-quality, they can charge extremely low prices
Due to ethical labor, more sustainable manufacturing process and higher quality materials, slow fashion brands charge higher prices compared to fast fashion brands.
How to Support the Rise of Slow Fashion Brands and Be Part of the Slow Fashion Movement?
Here are simple ways to be part of the slow fashion movement:
1. Buy From Slow Fashion Brands
Buy from brands that use eco-friendly materials and promote sustainable production. Do research on how the garments are sourced and made. Take note of how often they change or add to their inventory.
2. Choose High-Quality Garments
Purchase clothing that are long-lasting and timeless in style over badly made items that gets worn out after just a few uses.
3. Repair Worn-Out Garments
Fix old garments, or repurpose old garments so you can continue to wear them. You can even buy and style vintage or second-hand clothes to reduce cloth-related wastes.
Want to Contribute to the Rise of Slow Fashion Brands?
At Gary Bigeni, we create expressive everyday gender neutral clothing - in every size, gender, age, and independence. Our custom made-to-order fine art collections are all ethically sourced eco-cotton, and are created using sustainable manufacturing practices.Wear sustainable and gender neutral clothing that will reflect your distinctive personality. See our collection by visiting our website.