After exploring the definition of slow fashion in Monday’s post, let’s take a closer look at its three elements that I mentioned: care, quality, and cultivation.
First, let’s talk about Cultivation (or, if you prefer, curation.) This refers to the way you build your wardrobe. How are you obtaining your clothes–are you buying new, hitting up the thrift shops, swapping with friends, or creating your own?
Thrifting or swapping is often seen as the most responsible, eco-friendly way to get “new” clothes. These clothes have already been purchased (or made), but are no longer wanted by their original wearers. Passing them onto someone else keeps them from the landfill. But whether you’re thrifting; buying new; or planning to sew, weave, crochet, or knit your own; you’ll want to think about quality.
Quality refers to the materials used, the way the garment is constructed, and even the design or style. (Is it something trendy that’ll grow stale quickly, or a classic you can wear for years to come?) Are the materials used natural, like cotton, wool, linen, hemp? Or are they derived from petroleum? Plastic microfibers, like those from polyester, can cause big trouble.
Another important aspect of quality to think about refers to the life and working conditions of the people who make your clothes (this is relevant mostly to those who are buying new items.) Are they paid fairly? Are they working in safe factories? The answer is often a resounding “NO,” but transparency in the fashion industry is so infamously non-existent that it’s difficult to know exactly what is going on. Organizations like Fashion Revolution are investigating so that we can be better informed about the choices we make and brands we support, but there is still a long way to go.
Care is fairly self-explanatory, but certainly worth mentioning: how do you treat the garments you have? This includes wearing, washing, storing, mending. Are you washing your clothes in the recommended way? Are you keeping the moths from getting to your wool sweaters? When a button pops off or a seam begins to fray, what do you do? A little sewing know-how can go a long way!
If you get a chance, glance through your wardrobe tonight. If you’re like many, you’ll find a full closet but nothing to wear. Think about what pieces you love and wear often. Are there certain characteristics common to those garments? Now look at the pieces you bought and wore once, or maybe haven’t worn at all. What is it that you don’t like about those pieces you aren’t wearing? Think about what gaps need to be filled in, and what you might pass on to others.
Later in the week, I’ll conclude this series with part 3, in which I’ll explain in more detail how to implement these concepts, share some of my favorite resources, and talk about how you can get involved in the slow revolution.