This Spring it was estimated that Brits threw out 680 million pieces of clothing with a third of them going to landfill. Now that September’s here we’ll soon be sorting out our winter clothing. If you’re like me you’re wondering what on earth you managed to look good in last year, read on.
What is Slow Fashion?
Tempting as it is to rush out and shop the lovely new collections, your wallet and the planet will thank you for resisting the urge. I find after a few weeks of wearing the clothes I’ve dug out from last winter I start to get a pretty good idea of what my wardrobe could do with. Then I can start to look for something that fits the bill. But my first tip is to avoid the High Street.
The High Street is not a total disaster ethically, more of that later, but in my experience, wandering the High Street lands you with impulse buys that you didn’t really need and don’t fit into your wardrobe.
If you can wait even longer for your new item. Try making your own. For me, knitting is the epitome of slow fashion. This cardi took me about two years to finish. So now I wear it rich with memories of fireside evenings, not so romantic long car journeys and snatched moments when I knitted in the middle of family chaos.
Cost wise there isn’t really a saving, but you can choose your colour and feel the satisfaction of having made something yourself. Checkout Deramores for a great online yarn and pattern shop.
Where to Find Slow Fashion
If you can’t quite wait two years for your new clothes, try #slowfashion online. Yes, impulse buys still happen when you shop online, but there is the cooling off period before the goods actually reach you, giving time for reflection. You have time to think carefully about what you need to fill gaps in your wardrobe and to try the item on with stuff you already own.
So, where to look online? I love The Natural Collection for its range of styles and prices, People Tree for on-trend special pieces and classic separates, Kuyichi Jeans and Patagonia or Howies for active wear, Thought Clothing for really high quality classics. Twitter and Instagram are great place to find new brands. Just search for #ethicalfashion or #slowfashion and loads of accounts will pop up.
Get Fun One Off Pieces from Car Boot Sales
Just in case this all sounds a bit sensible and serious, when clothes are secondhand and cost 50p at a bootsale you can indulge in some reckless buys that you may come to love or loathe. Who cares? This is what fashion should be about, spinning someone else’s last favourite top into your wardrobe, then on to someone else when the mood takes you.
To survive the boot sale, arrive early, but don’t leave early. Sometimes a disorganised person with great taste in clothes pulls up a bit last minute when the early birds have left. Look for the sellers who are selling their own stuff, not a whole mix of styles and types – these are the professional sellers who know their Mint Velvet from their Florence and Fred, and price accordingly. If people are selling their own clothes, look at what they’ve got on. If you like it, then it’s worth your time to have a really good sift through their stuff.
High Street Know How
If you do find yourself on the High Street, you need to know about the Ethical Trading Initiative and who’s in it. Most well known High Street brands are part of it, but unfortunately there is no public visibility of the auditing of members. This is carried out by NGOs and Trade Unions who are part of ETI, but not published. The emphasis of the ETI is on members progressively implementing its code and there has been some success in health and safety and elimination of child labour. You can find out which companies are members here.
Far better information is available from the Ethical Consumer, although a subscription is required. Here you can see, for example, that whilst White Stuff, for example, is seen as a caring company and a member of the ETI, they could definitely do with more transparency in their supply chain.
On the subject of supply chain, I should mention here the Cotton 2040 initiative where Forum for the Future is working with M&S and others to ensure that cotton is sustainably farmed. Currently only 12-15% of cotton grown globally is sustainably sourced.
So this new season challenge yourself not to buy anything new until at least October and savour the moment when someone compliments your ‘new top’ which you actually found in the back of the wardrobe and paired with a great new pair of Kuyuchi jeans that will last you for years.
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