Slow Fashion: A Beginner’s Guide
In university, when I finished an essay, I would reward myself by going shopping. I’d budget £30, and spend an afternoon slowly poking through Primark, Next, H&M, and Topshop, before finally settling on some exciting new thing. But then I watched The True Cost, and learnt about the impact of fast fashion on the planet. For a year I didn’t change anything, except that now I felt guilty when I shopped. It wasn’t until I went to a human right’s conference and met some amazing ethical fashion advocates, who were stylish and friendly and non-judgmental, that I made the decision to change my habits. Here are some things I’ve learnt so far!
There’s a difference between slow, ethical, and sustainable fashion
Ethical fashion is fashion that was ethically made. The person who made it was treated like a person, not a disposable Victorian factory worker. Great! Ethical fashion is often more expensive, so not always doable for everyone.
Sustainable fashion is fashion that was made with minimal harm to the environment. Great! It is also often more expensive.
Slow fashion is simply the opposite of fast fashion. A brand can be slow fashion by making high quality, long-lasting garments, and not constantly trying to shift new stock.
Picture: This shirt is my first item from Reformation, a brand that is as sustainable as it is stylish
Slow fashion is an easy first step that everyone can do
Look, not everyone can afford to suddenly start buying sustainable, ethical clothes. Or else maybe you have a really specific style, and there isn’t as much variety as you would like among ethical and sustainable brands (although there is more variety than you would think!). But everyone can gently move away from fast fashion. The first, easy step to take is this: only buy things you love. Even if they’re from fast fashion shops, only buying things you love forces you to break the cycle of idly shopping because you’re bored.
Picture: Instead of buying pretty dresses (my greatest weakness), I figured out what was really missing from my wardrobe and bought three black turtlenecks.
Figure out your style
Guys, ethical fashion blogs are the best. There are fashionistas out there, taking beautiful photographs and making you feel jealous of how thin they are, and they are telling you NOT to spend money. It’s amazing! And, apart from inspiration, they often feature articles about how to identify what your sense of style is, because once you know that, it’s easier to figure out whether you’ll actually wear the skirt you’re lusting after. Style Bee has an incredible guide that will walk you through an in-depth analysis of what your style currently is, and what you’d like it to be. It will help you gain clarity on what clothes make you feel like the best version of yourself, and steer you away from clothes that you like but that don’t actually work for you.
Picture: My winter colour palette
Take care of your clothes
Wash your clothes on cold. Hang dry things you care about. Get things mended, get your shoes resoled, buy a good lint roller, learn to iron, investigate steamers (I haven’t bought one yet, but I fully expect it to change my life when I do).
Picture: Washing on cold helps clothes last longer, exhibit A: seven-year-old Primark dress, still in perfect condition
Fall in love with your wardrobe
Look in the back of your wardrobe— there are things there that you had hope for, once. If you never figured out a way to wear an item, look it up! I promise you that somewhere, there’s a wikihow on how to style it. If you still don’t ever wear it, then sell it, and spend that money on something you will wear. This process is actually pretty exciting, because every time you figure out how to wear something you’d given up on, it’s like going shopping, but free.
Picture: I had these brown shoes in the back of my closet and it took some googling to figure out how to wear them
Discover the vast world of online second hand designer shopping
You know what’s fun? Buying something a cheap designer dress that’s in very good condition, and then getting to feel morally superior about it. There are so many options here that it’s crazy. The Real Real and Poshmark are my two favourites at the moment.
Picture: $12 second hand coat
I don’t have the money for this yet, but when I do, boy oh boy am I going to get Rent the Runway’s unlimited rental subscription, so that I can have new things all the time without adding demand for new things to be made. This is particularly good for people who can’t resist a trend.
Get a capsule wardrobe – or don’t
Some people love the capsule wardrobe idea. “Steve Jobs only ever wore turtlenecks! We have a limited number of decisions we can make each day! Minimalism!” I wish them well, and admittedly their instagrams are beautiful. But fashion is a form of expression for a lot of people, and slow fashion doesn’t have to be about wearing the same five camel-and-pale-jean coloured things every day.
Everyone has to start somewhere
You can have a lot of clothes and avoid fast fashion, because, at the end of the day, slow fashion isn’t about how much you own: it’s about how much you value what you own. You should care about your clothes, and want them to have long, happy lives. This is the single easiest way to avoid contributing to the dumpster fire that is fast fashion: buy things you love. Keep wearing them. Look great.
UrbanMeisters, now that you have some clear slow fashion tips, set a stylish yet conscious foot forward with Alice Winn by following her Slowfashion account on Instagram. For more tips on how to build an ecofashion wardrobe, here’s our chic (and bag crazy!) founder Mirela Orlovic giving you a stylish eco-makeover to meet all your daily urban style needs!