We live in a funny old world. Jeans can cost less than a sandwich. There are now 52 micro-seasons of fashion, rather than the previous two major seasons with resort in between. A dress can appear on a starry Instagram feed one day and a copy in high street fashion stores a week later. It’s all so fast. Fast. Fast.
When things gain lightning speed, perspective can reduce to a pinpoint. I recognised this in myself. It’s part of the reason I have committed to my no-buy year and why I’m still on track.
In the face of all the fast fashion, how can we slow it down? How can we make fashion about value, about us and about style. I want to feel like a fashion individual, not a cog in a machine that relies on my constant consumerism to propel it forward.
Here are some ideas on how to slow fashion:
Make it yourself
This really is the glacial version of slow fashion. Making it yourself takes time, it takes investment in fabric and learning and it takes risk. Not every thing that I make is easy or comes out right the first time. Things evolve and become other things. But there is intrinsic value in every seam I stitch. There is nothing fast or throw away about it. The longest lasting items in my wardrobe are the ones I have made myself.
Collaborate with a dress maker
You may not want to make your own clothes, but you can always work with someone who can. It’s not an every-day solution, but consider working with a dressmaker when you need a special outfit. It keeps skills alive and you will have a piece of art.
Ask how often will you wear this?
If you know you will it thirty times or more, then it’s a slow investment. You also need to know that the quality is going to sustain at least thirty wears.
Pay pass is one of life’s great time savers. But it does enable spending without thinking. The act of physically handing over hard-earned cash slows the thought process. I really think so much of this is about intention. When buying clothing I’d often feel like I was in a race with myself. That I had to rush to pay for an item before the sensible part of me slowed the impulsive part. Paying cash can ensure that the sensible part of us is also on-board with the purchase.
Let it settle
There is no rush to buy an item. There are no lines of people behind you waiting for you to let go of a dress so that they can pounce. The shops are designed to illicit that feeling of panic – particularly sales racks. But it’s a confection. And, really, if you do miss out, is it that really a big deal? By letting a decision settle for a while before purchasing it slows the impulse that fast fashion relies on.
One in – one out rule
My wardrobe is bursting at the seams. Again, why I have committed to this no-buy year. So once I do lift my self-imposed ban, I’ll bring a one in – one out rule. I cannot let a piece in without removing something I already own. AND it has to be a thoughtful reduction. It might be a gift to a friend who I KNOW will wear it, selling it on or physically going into an op-shop to donate. Stuffing it in a garbage bag that will travel in the car several months before I see an opportune charity bin does not count.
Try minimalism challenges
Challenges like going six months or a year without buying things can be helpful. The 333 project is something you might like to try. The ideas is that you choose 33 items (including shoes and accessories) and only wear them for three months. I have been enjoying the Minimalist’s podcast and their philosophy of reduction and re-introduction. You remove something from your life for a decent period of time and reintroduce it if you really feel that not having it has reduced your quality of life.
I have conflicting feelings about the stores with low price points and their role in throw-away fashion. Not everyone who buys from those stores does so with the intention of cycling their wardrobe regularly. They definitely serve a purpose and allow people to buy things at a price that make sense for them. Accessibility is not something I want to stomp on or ignore. However, I do think those stores need to be transparent about how they achieve their price points.
The Ethical Fashion Report was recently released and a number of fast fashion players have improved drastically. This report is centred around the fair treatment of workers and the support of a living wage. It doesn’t take into account the environmental and psychological impacts of fast fashion. So I’m still hesitant to support a business model that relies on high volume turn over in short periods of time.