SLOW FASHION: a conscious consumption concept

We’re increasingly becoming aware of the fact that our planet is in danger, and several initiatives have been launched to implement more sustainable solutions globally. The fashion industry produces nearly 100 millions of tons of textile waste each year thanks to fast fashion, and it’s high time to re-think both the production and consumption of clothing.

The concept of slow fashion was born out of the need to call attention to the way we consume clothes. Its purpose is to ensure that we buy fewer, higher quality pieces of clothing. It comes down to buying the clothes you really need; clothes that stand the test of time and last longer. This is slow fashion, and it’s not subject to the ever-changing whims of the fashion industry.

What exactly is slow fashion?

Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion and supports clothing production that respects people, the environment and animals. In contrast to industrial fashion, slow fashion favors local clothing manufacturers and the use of environmentally friendly materials in clothing production. Its aim is to preserve the environment, safeguard the uniqueness of the profession and provide value to both consumers and producers. It’s a concept that considers the methods and resources used to create clothing and promotes the purchase of better quality, longer-lasting clothes while ensuring the fair treatment of workers, animals and the environment. In sum, it’s a more ethical and sustainable solution to clothing consumption.

Slow fashion is not merely a philosophy. It actively contributes to the way we purchase clothing, inspiring us to re-discover the joy of buying garments and seeing the people behind the brands. Slow fashion offers a more personal, human approach to purchasing clothes and is grounded in inspiration, respect and pleasure that values both the consumer and the producer.

In addition to promoting these values, slow fashion enables us to reduce our fashion consumption. The capsule wardrobe, therefore, offers the perfect solution to creating a more environmentally conscious, sustainable wardrobe that has all the pieces you need and love. It’s also better for your wallet!

What does clothing consumption have to do with protecting the environment?

  • 80 billion pieces of clothing are manufactures each year.
  • Fast micro fashion brands release 52 micro collections a year (as opposed to the 2 collections usually released by big brands).
  • Clothing production today has increased by 400% compared to 20 years ago.
  • On average, fast fashion representatives wear a garment 7 times before throwing it away.
  • 35 kg of textile waste is generated per person per year in the United States.
  • Women, on average, wear only 20-30% of the clothing in their closet on a daily basis.
  • 20% of industrial water pollution is due to the textile industry alone.
  • 200,000 tons of dye are discharged into wastewater every day.
  • The fashion industry uses 1.5 trillion liters of water a year.
  • 2.6% of the world's freshwater supply is used for cotton production.
  • 190,000 tons of microplastic fibers end up in our oceans every year.
  • Synthetic fibers are used in 72% of all clothing.
  • Textiles and clothing make up 5.2% of landfills.
  • The average lifespan of a garment is 3 years.
  • 3% of all chemicals globally are used in clothing manufacturing.
  • 10% of the world's polluting emissions come from the clothing industry.
  • 70 million barrels of oil are used annually to make polyester.
  • 70 million trees are cut down every year for clothing.

What can you do about it? be conscious about what you buy and how you care for your clothes.

Purchase clothes made in countries with more stringent environmental regulations. Choose garments made from natural materials, not chemicals. Only wash if necessary and wash at low temperatures. Buy less, buy better quality and recycle clothes you don’t need.

Why isn’t the fast fashion industry sustainable?

The fashion industry is now the second largest contributor of pollution globally after the oil industry, thanks to the fast fashion trend. It accounts for 8-10% of annual emissions and 20% of wastewater emissions globally. But that’s not all. If you think that the environmental impact of aviation is bad, just consider that the fashion industry requires more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined!

  • Approximately 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester every year
  • Fast fashion brands overproduce by about 40%.
  • 12% of all manufactured clothes will be recycled immediately.
  • 93% of fast fashion brands do not pay their factory workers enough to make a living.

Fast fashion brands are adding one “sustainable” product line (organic cotton, recycled polyester, etc.) to their unsustainable clothing collections, duping consumers into thinking this is a change. No matter how sustainable fabrics are, the fast fashion trend manufactures clothing at breakneck speed and makes even the best materials unsustainable.

Fast fashion brands tell us to donate or recycle our unwanted clothes, but only 10% of clothes end up being recycled. The rest are transported to landfills abroad or to third world countries. (Read more about how Ghana has become a textile landfill, fueling the country’s waste crisis).

But even if we recycle our clothes, what’s the point of manufacturing and purchasing so many clothes if they’re only going to end up being recycled? Why isn’t recycling the last resort? Shouldn’t these big brands be focusing on making durable clothes that don’t tear or fade after a few washes?

Fast fashion brands can never be sustainable unless they become socially responsible and ensure that everyone in their supply chain, from the farmers to the textile factory workers, are paid adequate wages and have good working conditions.

Fast fashion brands can never be sustainable if they release new collections every two weeks. The speed at which clothes are manufactured and discarded leads to an unimaginable amount of textile waste and the pollution of our precious natural resources.

Last but not least, 60% of the fast fashion industry’s claims of sustainability are greenwashing. Big clothing brands gets away with misleading consumers because the latter are unaware of the horrific practices their organization employs in manufacturing clothes.

If you want to be a responsible consumer, consider where you purchase your clothing. Do you want to promote smaller, sustainable local brands or unethical fast fashion giants? And if you can’t completely avoid buying fast fashion pieces, think about buying less and buying consciously.

Want to learn more about conscious shopping and how to create your own capsule wardrobe? Get our eBook!

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