How to ace Slow Fashion & become a Conscious Fashion Consumer?
Learn about the pros & cons of Slow Fashion, and how you can make the switch on a budget!
As the name suggests, slow fashion is the direct opposite of what fast fashion stands for.
If fast fashion promotes cheap, low-quality purchases; then slow fashion is all about buying quality goods that don’t harm the environment. If fast fashion functions because of cheap, underpaid and overworked labour; slow fashion promotes fair trade and ethical production under safe working conditions for all those involved.
The stark contrast isn’t just why we all need to switch to slow fashion, there are other perks as well.
Slow Fashion Pros & Cons
- Slow fashion saves natural resources.
The entire production process for slow fashion clothing is centred around planet-friendly practices. Thus, using natural resources carefully and planning the production process around them is the key. Raw materials like less-water inducive cotton, using locally available fabrics and green energy consumption are kept in mind.
- Slow fashion does not harm animal life
Slow fashion completely disregards the use of animal skins as fabrics. But that does not mean you miss out on fashionable, regal fabrics like leather- you just choose better. Faux leather alternatives are now widely available in the market. Reduced use of chemicals in the production of garments also means less or no harm to aquatic life.
- Promotes fair and safe working conditions
Slow fashion does not just ensure a healthy planet but also healthy people. Fast fashion is particularly nasty when it comes to labour treatment. The problems include low wages, unfair or no compensation for overtime, and unsafe working environments.
Slow fashion instead focuses on people and artisanal upliftment through practices like fair wages, ethical trade, and ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for all. Several sustainable brands use local talent and empower women garment workers with several schemes.
- Slow fashion helps reduce your carbon footprint
Slow fashion is all about the smart use of natural resources, local production units but most of all on-demand manufacturing. This means that instead of engaging in mass production and pushing out clothes in a sale, sustainable brands make pieces according to consumer demand. This slow intent in the production process ensures a low carbon footprint and positive environmental impacts.
- It teaches us to love our clothes
Finally, slow fashion is all about appreciating what you buy and wear. Quality products that are made to order means they will last much longer and remain by your side across events, occasions and years. Fast fashion has instigated the principle that clothes are meant to be worn once and then disposed of. Slow fashion challenges this perception and gives you an alternate, more healthy relationship with the clothes.
- Slow fashion is slightly expensive
Price points for sustainable products are the main pinching point for many. But the reason sustainable products including clothes seem expensive is that they include many hidden costs that are simply ignored by conventional brands. Read our explainer piece to understand what these hidden costs are and why sustainable products are expensive here.
- Slow fashion = boring clothes
Another misconception about sustainable fashion brands is the lack of trendy patterns and designs. While it is harder to offer similar designs that fast fashion brands offer in high-quality, sustainable fabrics; slow fashion brands instead give varieties in colours and offer artisanal prints like ikat, tie & dye, kalamkari etc.
- Few clothes mean repeating outfits often
The use and throw culture that fast fashion has introduced in the consumer’s mind is probably one of the hardest ones to get over. When trendy clothes are available at cheap rates, it is difficult to not give in to the urge to shop. But clothes are not meant to be worn once or a few times. Just like any other product, they are meant to be used until they last and are in good condition. If repeating the same clothes is a worry for you, then our next set of simple steps should solve the problem.
How to switch to Slow Fashion on a budget?
The biggest hesitation to make the switch to slow fashion is price and the reduced number of outfits. But fret not, for we have the answers. Slow fashion can be trendy and within your budget limits through these five simple techniques.
- Use what you have
Slow fashion doesn’t share the premise of buying something to solve a problem. It rather encourages us to take good care of our clothes and make them last longer. This means understanding how our clothes are made, wash care instructions and learning a few mending techniques to fix small tears and rips.
- Buy secondhand, thrift, borrow or rent
Our first instinct when we want to make a new purchase is to pick up our phones and browse fashion apps or find a store that has a sale nearby. Slow fashion implores you to choose better alternatives. Instead of browsing apps, browse the collections of an online thrift store or find a secondhand store near you. If you don’t want to spend too much money, avoid sale signs altogether and borrow from a friend or rent the outfit.
- Restyle and Reinvent
We promised you an answer to the preparing outfits problem and here it is. Try out different ways and styles you can wear your clothes in. Several bloggers and fashion influencers are available at the touch of a few clicks- use them. Not all of their suggestions may be practical or work for you but something is bound to stick out. Don’t be afraid to get your own creatives juices flowing and experiment.
- Avoid trends by knowing your personal style
While trends are not entirely bad, expecting 52 trends a year and following them all religiously is the problem. Plus trends are universal and can be followed by many around you, having a personal style makes you stand apart. Figuring out what works for you takes time so take it easy and slow. Experiment with what you have, borrow what you think might work for you and thrift what you absolutely love.
- Save up for good quality products and buy from sustainable brands
Steps 1-4 required either no or small monetary payments. So for our final suggestion, we ask you to spend big and smart. Buy a quality piece that will last you longer and will not be out of fashion anytime soon. Sustainable brands have plenty of options to choose from. While the products may be expensive, they are an investment and not just any other piece of garment in your wardrobe.
Slow fashion as a concept may seem dull and boring but it is all about fostering a healthy and positive relationship with the clothes we wear. So, the next time you are out to make a new purchase, take a moment to think about all the pieces sitting in your wardrobe and all the ways you can restyle them!
Main image features outfit by Doodlage.
Sanjoli is currently working as a Content Strategist and has a Master’s degree in Fashion Journalism. She has contributed to publications like MensXP, Mindless Mag and Sustain: The Mag in the past. Conscious Charcha is her way of learning more about sustainability and spreading the word about a sustainable lifestyle.