Sustainable fashion is the term given to the movement and process of creating fashion products which are ethically sourced, address ecological concerns and which also promote social justice. Sustainable fashion is concerned with the whole process of creating fashion, from the very design of the products themselves, through to the raw materials used and the manufacturing methods, as well as the transportation of the products and their sales.
Additionally, sustainable fashion is also concerned with what happens to products once they have been sold. It seeks to promote and encourage more sustainable consumption habits by encouraging people to reuse products, repair and recycle them once they have come to the end of their life or usability. Furthermore, as a movement, sustainable fashion also aims to minimize unwanted and harmful environmental effects which result from producing fashion items. This includes extending a product’s lifespan, as well as facilitating and encouraging companies of all sizes to use more sustainable and ecologically-friendly manufacturing and marketing strategies.
The Slow Fashion Movement
‘Slow Fashion’ emerged from the wider slow food movement of the late 1980s. At the heart of slow fashion is a firm opposition to the fast fashion model which emerged over the last 20-30 years, whereby consumers are encouraged to keep up with the latest trends by buying more items than they might otherwise need, at a cheaper price, but also at a lower quality.
Instead, slow fashion encourages people to buy fewer clothes, of a higher quality and made from more sustainable processes. It also places greater emphasis on durability, supporting locally produced and sourced clothes, as well as encouraging the wearing of clothes which reflect the cultures and places of those wearing them.
How to Engage in Sustainable Fashion Practices
Embracing sustainable or slow fashion doesn’t need to be an arduous or even costly process.
· Assess your wardrobe - Are there clothes that you haven’t worn in a long time? Can you donate these items to charity for someone else to purchase, thereby promoting clothes be reused? If you have some clothes which are looking a little worn out, why not repair them, redesign or upcycle them? If you have garments that have come to the end of their life, take them to a recycling centre where the materials can then be used to make new garments. In this way, you can help contribute to a reduction in demand for new materials and help to reduce waste.
· Swap, borrow or rent clothes - One of the easiest ways to help reduce the demand for new clothes is to buy second-hand clothes yourself. From online sites, to vintage shops and charity shops, there are many ways in which you can purchase new items without contributing to the fast fashion model. Alternatively, you can look to borrow or rent garments for one-off occasions.
· Choose to buy fewer clothes which last longer -Although it is not always financially possible, consider purchasing an item of clothing which is made from higher-quality material and which has been ethically sourced. Instead of buying two or three items, choose instead to buy only one item which will last longer.
Building on the principles of slow movement, this week we encourage you pause and take stock of the items you own and enjoy wearing. Try to minimise your wardrobe and create a timeless, interchangeable selection that resonates with you.
In the same way that mindful practices encourage us to pause and take stock of our selves and the way we feel, the clothes we wear can also help to reflect our sense of self and can impact on our mood and the way we feel about ourselves. Reflect on why you wear certain clothes. What is it about those items that speaks to you? Is it comfort, the way they feel on your skin, or how they make you feel?
Try to take the opportunity to apply the same principles to minimising your wardrobe as you would to your mindful practice. Find what feels good to you. Taking time to curate your wardrobe can be a helpful way to create your own style and allow your creativity to flourish, whilst also enabling it to reflect your personality and sense of self more deeply and mindfully.
Any items that you no longer wish to keep can be donated to your local charity shops or taken to a recycling centre. It’s a simple way to help reduce waste and engage in sustainable living practices.