A couple of years ago, I quite accidentally ran across the term “slow fashion.” My initial reaction was that I finally didn’t have to feel completely alone in my aversion to mass produced clothing.
I delved deep into researching this movement, wanting to really understand what it meant and, more particularly, how it applied to me. In the end, I agree with the principles, but not so much with the current proposed solutions.
- Sustainable fabric.
This was an immediate no-brainer for me. I confess I previously had no idea about the effect of synthetic fabrics on the earth or the volume of clothing that goes to landfills. I have a closet full of guilt. But now that I know, there will be no going back. Better late to the party than missing it entirely. (blush)
- Ethical treatment of employees.
Another no-brainer. I won’t even waste time on this. If you are opposed to the ethical treatment of human beings, then this is probably not the blog for you.
- The influence of the fashion industry.
I whole-heartedly agree with the slow fashion movement’s position on the fashion industry as a whole. I stand with and applaud the slow fashion movement’s pressure on clothing manufacturers and retailers to stop peddling disposable clothes and to stop shaming people – particularly women – into thinking that they have to buy new clothes every week or they are somehow lesser human beings. I am not late to that party; I have always seen it that way. Those are the values with which I was raised.
But still… I can’t help but get stuck on the fact that there is more talk about large companies coming around to pushing out "ethical" clothing as a combative stance to fast fashion than there is talk about the fact that sewing is inherently slow fashion. In fact, I propose that sewing your own clothes is the ultimate slow fashion choice.
Why continue relying solely on manufacturers and retailers for your clothing? Sure, they’ll reign it in just enough to quiet the protests and do a little rebranding song and dance, but their bottom line is still their priority. Whether you will be happy post-purchase with the clothes they produce is not even a consideration; they are banking on the fact that you will buy them anyway. In fact, the shorter the honeymoon period, the better, so that you will go back for more. You believe that you have no other choice and they love that about you.
Sewing your own clothes makes you a Slow Fashion Boss.
You can get clothes made of sustainable fabric in a store. You can feel better about buying from a brand that is transparent about its ethical treatment of employees, assuming they’re telling the truth. But only with sewing your own clothes can you guarantee both of those things, plus ensure a perfect fit and control your style. If the end game of this movement is to build a wardrobe that you intend to wear for a long time, the opposite of disposable clothing, how is the proper fit not an imperative?
Often, while trying on clothes in the dressing room, you are charged what I call the Dressing Room Emotional Tax. I talk about this tax all the time because I think it’s important. When you find clothes in the stores that you love and you take them into the dressing room to find that none of them fit, you are mad at your body for not fitting into the clothes you want. I’m not saying you should be mad at the manufacturer either. It is impossible for a clothing manufacturer, large or small, to produce clothes with your measurements in mind. Mass producing clothes can only work for dolls.
Instead, commit to a higher standard for yourself: Clothes tailored specifically to your fabulous body measurements.
You can still be trendy if you want. You can be modest, you can pick your fabric, you can put pockets in everything, you can wear only elastic around your waist to account for daily weight fluctuations. You are in complete control of how you dress, as well as how you impact the earth, if you take the time to sew your own clothes. You are the boss.