As a clothing designer who produces garments locally, and in small batches, I consider myself to be an adherent of slow fashion. I've also spent a number of years travelling encountering artisans and other practitioners of slow fashion in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the photo above from 1983, I am seen in Paris, France at the famous Montmartre market. I'm sure Montmartre would be very different now than it was then. 

To celebrate slow fashion, I am doing a new series of blog postings called "Slow Fashion Fridays." On select Friday's over the coming months, I’ll be posting about slow fashion themes, including featured textiles, travel, slow fashion artisans and natural dyes.

Fast Fashion

The term slow fashion has been around for a number of years and occasionally I still get asked what it means. Sometimes I find it easier to define and talk about slow fashion by first talking about fast fashion. Fast fashion is about making garments as cheaply as possible and is characterized by:

  • Speed-to-market
  • Often compromising quality
  • De-humanizing the process and the workers
  • Cheap and low price
  • Low pay and long hours
  • Often dangerous conditions
 

"Sweatshop project" by marissaorton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Slow Fashion

In contrast to Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion is characterized by:

  • Intentional processes
  • Valuing workers
  • Values-based
  • Quality garments
  • Making a difference 

Fast fashion is happening in countries I’ve had the good fortune to visit, but there are also wonderful traditions of slow fashion in these countries.

Here I am in Japan in 1985 at the famous Toji Temple Market in Kyoto that occurred once a month. 

I am passionate about textile traditions. I love my fellow artisan’s and their long heritage of tradition and culture. Although the aging population of artisans creates a challenge with fewer younger generations wanting to continue their traditional crafts, there is good news! A revival of slow fashion is gaining momentum the world over. Interest is increasing as customers come to understand the value of having a piece of clothing they cherish that was created in a way that strengthens artisanal communities.  

Even the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be encouraging the slow fashion revival. Li Edelkoort is a Dutch trend forecaster and one of the most influential brand consultants in the world. She advises companies on sustainability practices and has worked with companies such as Coca Cola, Nissan, L’Oréal, and Gucci, to name a few. She has been quoted by Wikipedia, “She described the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity in that the global disruption of travel and of the supply chain from China might trigger new forms of local sourcing and production.”

I love Li Edelkoort's quote about textiles and culture:

Thanks for reading my first installment of Slow Fashion Fridays. I look forward to sharing with you more slow fashion stories on Friday's to come. 

 

 

January 15, 2021 by Kathleen O'Grady

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