Why slow fashion is the only choice for sustainable fashion clothing
Slow fashion is the current buzzword – and the opposite of fast fashion. Fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M flood the market with low quality clothes. They sell garments that we wear only a few times, just until someone sets a new trend.
As people are buying fashion they only use a few times before discarding it, landfills worldwide are full of discarded slow fashion items, which affects the environment exponentially.
As sustainability is an equally important buzzword, many savvy consumers and designers in the fashion industry have become aware of creating sustainability practices for non-fast fashion garments that will withstand the test of time. They create timeless, classic slow fashion pieces that don't harm the planet.
And so more biodegradable and ethical fashion is another important trend. The aim of slow fashion trends is to reduce the amount of fashion that is unethical that manufacturers produce in bucketloads.
Slow fashion clothing is ethical fashion
Slow fashion is, in essence, sustainable clothes. Slow fashion UK brand manufacturers produce clothes that are high quality.
Slow fashion follows on the heels of the slow food movement created in 1986 by Italian Carlo Petrini to stop the production of fast food and keep local food cultures and traditions alive.
In the same vein, more biodegradable garments beg consumers to consider avoiding fast consumption of fashion.
Sustainable or slow fashion advocates creating and selling a fashion brand that will withstand the test of time. To create slow fashion brands, companies should use biodegradable materials that are durable and designed in classic styles so that they will last longer than the current 5-minute trends.
Manufacturers producing eco friendly fashion brands are producing slow fashion items that will have a much lower impact on the environment and won’t end up in landfills.
Plenty of us discard used clothes. But if you were to consider sustainability, you would think about recycling these slow fashion brands and reusing them. After all, their material created from a reputable brand is long wearing. Popular eco friendly brand textile choices include organic cotton, linen and Tencel.
What are slow fashion clothes?
Not only do we make more environmentally safe fashion brands out of environmentally safe raw materials, we also produce sustainable fashion:
- Brand factories dye the fabrics and print on them using eco friendly methods that use far less energy and water.
- They use fewer chemicals in the manufacturing process.
- Manufacturers consider the environment when they produce a slow fashion brand so that there is no waste, or very little waste. These brand manufacturers also make sure to treat their workers well give them and clean, safe environments to work in.
- A clothing brand that factories don't mass-produce: manufacturers create sustainable fashion clothing in a small batch to reduce waste and ensure good quality control; this is very important in the slow fashion business.
- Sustainable garments are long-lasting because they are of a better quality and are made using good materials.
The emergence of sustainable slow fashion clothing brands
Nobody used the term ‘slow fashion brand’ until way back in 2007, when Kate Fletcher, Professor of Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion came up with the term and started a fashion revolution.
As a professor, activist and designer, she reacted strongly to the effects fast fashion was having on the planet. In an article she wrote for The Ecologist journal, she certified fast fashion as emphasising qualities over quantities. She said that "people use traditional craftsmanship techniques" to create clothing that is long-lasting.
Sustainable clothes are not based on time, but quality, she explained. “Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.”
Sure, non sustainable fashion is a lot cheaper, but as Fletcher explains: “Of course, quality costs more. We will buy fewer products, but higher in value. A fairer distribution of the ticket price through the supply chain is an intrinsic part of the agenda.
"...More sustainable design enables a richer interaction between designer and maker; maker and garment; garment and user.”
The key principles of the wear slow fashion movement
Kate Fletcher’s points, made all the way back in 2007, are the gist of more eco friendly fashion today and made many people and those in a business like maake join the slow fashion movement and use fabrics that have been certified sustainable. As part of today’s sustainable fashion trend, people take the following important list of points into consideration:
- Sustainability: This involves people being environmentally aware throughout the life of the garment, from the moment a business has made pieces to when they dye and print on them, design, use and finally discard.
- Fair trade: This involves people promoting good fair labour practices in every sphere of the fashion industry. Every business has to make sure that they treat their workers well and give them fair, healthy conditions to work in.
- Local production: Part of being environmentally safe is looking after small local businesses and using locally made materials and resources. Buying locally means that we are able to reduce carbon emissions created by transporting those pieces.
- Quality manufacture: We cannot emphasise the focus on good quality over quantity. It’s all about advocating buying fewer quality clothes than fast fashion brands made of poor quality that are cheaper.
- Transparency: Manufacturers and retailers need to be transparent about how they make these items, where they make them and what the clothing is made of. That's fast fashion versus sustainable fashion.
The more sustainable fashion movement asks you to:
- Choose fashion brands that you already have in your wardrobe.
- Buy good gently worn vintage garments so that you’re recycling.
- Purchase fewer items less often – choosing quality pieces over quantity for your wardrobe, more sustainable over fast fashion brands.
- Consent to buy good quality pieces over quantity.
- Purchase natural, organic and environmentally safe fabrics.
Tips on how to adopt fashion sustainability
If you shop for good quality slow fashion clothing that is classic, you’re making a conscious decision to buy pieces that will last and will withstand fashion trends.
It’s the antithesis of fast fashion, which is on trend today, and out of fashion next week. Fast fashion brands produce low quality clothes. They make these mostly out of cheap synthetic materials and use cheap labour and an unethical manufacturing process.
Sustainable brands fall into a more expensive price range because:
- Factories manufacture them sustainably.
- We make sustainable fashion clothing out of quality natural and organic environmentally safe materials.
- Local artisans make sustainable fashion and their craftmanship is impeccable.
- The sustainable clothes industry is made to be long-lasting.
- Production costs are higher for the eco friendly fashion industry, which is also why it’s more expensive.
- When clothes are made ethically, this also means that the workers are paid good wages and work in safe, healthy conditions.
4 important questions to ask yourself about your clothing
Before you buy any brand, ask yourself these 4 questions to see if you look for sustainable fabrics and clothes. If not, follow these tips to choosing more eco friendly brands:
- Am I buying from an outlet that sells a quality clothing brand? Fast fashion outlets abound, so be more discerning. Look at retailers who offer quality brands that have a level of craftmanship involved in their manufacture, or ones made by designers or manufacturers known for their environmentally friendly fashion ethos.
- Have I read the label and taken note of what it says?Check whether the textile is organic, synthetic or a blend of both. Natural and organic fibres including cotton, wool, linen, hemp etc are all made into more hard wearing and comfortable clothing.
- How much does it cost to clean the garment? Check the washing instructions. If you have to dry clean an item, only purchase it if you’re going to be wearing it for a few fancy occasions. If you’re planning to wear it regularly, looking after the garment is going to be expensive.
- Do I know enough about fashion sustainability to make an informed decision?Do you know which clothing is considered fast fashion, and, in contrast, which are the more environmentally safe fashion brands?
If you’re unsure about fashion sustainability, why not read the comprehensive blog we compiled on fast fashion, The Problem with Fast Fashion. We also put together an explanatory blog on Why Sustainability in Fashion is So Important, which will put details about sustainability into perspective for you.
Help bring down the fast fashion numbers…
We recently researched some sobering statistics which are worth taking a look at here:
- The UK produces 206.456 tonnes of textile waste, according to researchcarried out in 2020. In fact, at the time, the UK was the fourth largest producer of fabric waste in Europe. Since then, this amount has increased aggressively. And, as further statistics show, it’s expected that by 2050, £140 billion worth of clothes will be ending up in UK landfills. That’s really bad news for the fashion industry.
- Talking of 2050, other stats tell us that by this year, fast fashion will account for 10% of CO2 emissionson a global scale. And people will use 25% of carbon emissions to make these items of clothing. That’s before people discard those garments which then end up in landfills.
Make the transition to slow fashion
Some guidelines on understanding the importance of choosing a biodegradable fashion brand and shifting your mindset:
- Love what you already have
It’s time to fall in love with your wardrobe and take care of your clothing so that they last a long time. There are numerous ways you can extend the life of your clothes: wash with care, sew on missing buttons, or replace broken zips. Remove stains the moment they happen.
- Buy second-hand
Discover some of the many second-hand and vintage stores; they are veritable treasure troves of quality or sustainable slow clothes. You’ll often find garments that still have their labels on, because in this era of excess, many of us buy too much and never get around to wearing some of those brands.
Aside from ‘new old clothing’, gently worn garments are cheaper than purchasing quality pieces first-hand. After all, websites like Etsy and Amazon have made a fortune selling used goods to their customers. So check out what they have to offer.
- Buy British
Support local brands, choose a manufacturer who specializes in eco friendly fashion for its customers, who takes sustainability into account when it produces clothing.
- Take a sustainable perspective
Think about your wardrobe in a different light. You should keep your clothes, not discard them. These garments should last; you should wear slow fashion for years. You should only buy slow fashion you really love, brands that you’ll still adore in years to come in a size and style that will suit you.
Think about your clothing from the perspective of more biodegradable fashion. Value your sustainable slow fashion items and how manufacturers produce these brands. After all, because the craftmanship and sustainable care taken in producing sustainable brands is what matters, too. As do those who made these brands.
Follow our lead towards ethical production
We are textile manufacturers and printers, and we focus on the supply of sustainable products in every manner of our business. We are the winners of the 2023 Awards for Most Ethical Fabric and Best Custom Printing! We focus on creating a sustainable world where custom textile printing and ethical production is seamless, and where every piece of clothing we produce and supply is tailored just for you and made only when you need it. We take slow to heart.
- maake has a zero waste policy– we don’t waste any of the material we print. Instead, we supply local charities, schools and educational establishments with excess fabrics and cut-offs for them to reuse.
- All of the printing machines we use are fitted with energy-saving cut-off switches to reduce energy consumption when they’re idle. That’s the way we stay sustainable.
- We only use biodegradable inks when we print designs on fabrics.
- We only print what is needed to ensure no waste fabrics sit on shelves.
- We don’t resell or restock any printed material that is returned to us. Instead, we donate the fabrics – see above.
- All our materials are ethically sourced from UK-trusted mills. This helps the local economy.
- We believe in local production – we produce your entire order in our NW London mill. If you prefer, you can pick up your order to reduce our carbon footprint.
Read all about our focus on social responsibility here.
Non-fast fashion: sustainable design and printing with maake
When you shop with us for fabrics and textile printing, you can also make use of our innovative design tools which will assist you in being more biodegradable minded and also make your products more cost-effective. These include:
- A sample book of every single fabric we produce, featuring small size swatches of the fabrics so that you can visualise what your product will look and feel like when it’s printed on.
- A handy colour atlas, a 1-metre size range of fabric printed with more than 2,400 colours that we use when we print, giving you an idea of each colour and its code.