What is Slow Fashion? All Your Questions Answered

September 16, 2021

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As the fashion industry continues to evolve, many of us are becoming more conscious of where our clothes are made, who is making our clothes and what they’re made from. In fact, in 2020 over seven billion hours was spent googling ‘what is slow fashion?’ While interest has increased, many of us are still trying to wrap our heads around slow fashion, and what it entails.

It’s time to look at the elements that make up slow fashion and what you can look for before making your next purchase.

Slow fashion

Let’s start with slow fashion. Slow fashion generally refers to the style, design and quality of the garment, as well as the intention behind how it was made. This type of conscious consumption involves consumers buying items of clothing that are made from durable fabrics rather than the everchanging trends or ‘fast fashion’ that tend to be made from poorer quality material which doesn’t last as long.

Because of the short lifespan, consumers then need to go out and purchase more items once their last piece has run its course and the cycle continues.

Fast fashion is what some consumers may call ‘trendy’ or ‘fashionable’ as it’s fashion which changes quickly to keep up with emerging fashion trends. Slow fashion, although it isn’t necessarily ‘trendy,’ encourages consumers to slow down and opt for a more timeless choice rather than something they might only wear once or twice before it is sent to landfill. It also encourages consumers before purchasing to only purchase one or two quality items from a site instead of heading to fast fashion sites and doing a large clothes haul, buying multiple cheap items in one transaction.

One question people are asking is, ‘what are the characteristics of slow fashion and where can I find quality clothing?’ Like with anything, research is your best friend. Websites or apps such as Good On You provides detailed reports which help consumers to make an educated choice. It gathers information about a brand and shows a rating on whether they should be avoided or are a good choice to purchase from. It also provides consumers the options to search their favourite brands to see whether they meet up to a high-quality standard. If they don’t, the website provides quality alternatives that are like the brand searched.

Good On You describes some key characteristics of slow fashion to look out for including:

  • Made from high quality, sustainable materials like linen
  • Garments are more timeless than trendy
  • Often sold in smaller, local stores rather than huge chain enterprises
  • Locally sourced, produced and sold garments
  • Few, specific styles per collection, which are released twice or maximum three time per year, or a permanent seasonless collection
  • Often made-to-order to reduce unnecessary production

These are just some things to look out for when hunting for slow fashion items.

Ethical fashion

The second part of conscious consumption is ethical fashion. The Curious Button says ethical fashion, “refers to how the clothing was made, encompassing everything from how the cotton was grown to how the garment workers who made the clothes are treated and paid, their safety (no sweatshops, child labour, worker abuse, or slavery involved). Ethical fashion can often include animal treatment and whether animals are treated with dignity when using their product.”

Unfortunately, the umbrella term of ‘ethical’ means different things to different people. Because everyone has different values, it’s difficult to pinpoint everything that ethical fashion should include. The Good Trade sums it up well by saying, “Instead of looking for what they think consumers want to hear (a tall order), clothing companies must instead choose what values matter most to their brand. It’s in their best interest to lay out all the facts—the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

When looking to purchase ethically made items, consumers need to look for who made the item and what conditions the item was made in. While not all brands are transparent, try to get to know your favourite brands. Look at websites (such as Good On You) to see the conditions of workers. If you want to investigate further, reach out to the company, and ask them directly about what standards the company has around wages, working conditions and health standards. Look for their transparency on product creation and sourcing and seek out the company’s social impact report. Often, the more aware a company is about their production process the more likely they are to be producing ethical items.

Sustainable fashion

Last but certainly not least is sustainable fashion. This relates to the effects of the production of clothing on the environment. Essentially, this means whether there is the use of pesticides in growing cotton, what’s in the dyes that are used for various colours, waste treatment, energy reduction and packaging. It looks at the environmental impact a company has when producing product.

Worryingly, the United Nations estimates that the fashion industry contributes a massive 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion is a contributor to this, but with more and more education surfacing around the issue, people are beginning to be more conscious of their choices.

When searching for items that are manufactured sustainably, it’s important to do your research. Research the company you want to buy from and their policies around sustainability and what they’re doing to help the environment. If they aren’t easily accessible, try going onto a website like Good On You that pulls data or displays lists of companies that are environmentally friendly.

When it comes to conscious consumption, the three elements to keep in mind are ethical, sustainable, and slow fashion. Remember - slow fashion refers to clothes that are timeless and durable – it concerns the clothing itself. Ethical fashion refers to the ethics behind where and how your garment is made, including the welfare of the workers and animals and wages being paid. Sustainable fashion refers to the environment and the impact the company is having on environmental factors.

At Biz Collection Canada, we are constantly working towards creating slow, ethical, and sustainable pieces. If you would like to view our policies and commitments, head to our website.