Slow fashion movement

What is Slow Fashion Movement?

They say, fashion fades. But nowadays, fashion is fading so fast that, before buying a new pair of jeggings, you may wonder if this fashion trend has already gathered dust on the streets of high fashion. Slow fashion proponents urge us to slow down a bit and advocate sustainability over low cost.
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
~ Oscar Wilde
Fashion is not what it used to be. ... Once it was the prerogative of the elite, the wealthy. Now it is within the reach of everyone. The average guy or gal in America buys 64 pieces of clothing every year―a figure which is more than the number of weeks in a year. In the last 2 to 3 decades, consumers fetishized and sought cheap clothes, which brought them fashion nirvana. Even now, our closets are overstuffed with clothes bought at a low price that looked like a bargain at that time. As the closets aren't getting any bigger, those tees and skinny jeans are discarded without a second thought, just after a few months of use. This high-street clothing is termed as fast fashion.

To antidote the fast fashion 'syndrome', a movement started out in the retail world called 'slow fashion'. The term was first introduced by Kate Fletcher in 2007. According to her, Slow fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum. This movement works on the same lines of the Slow Food Movement. The aim of this movement is to reduce the rate of fashion change to a sustainable and realistic pace.

You may wonder, why are the fast fashion trends so bad if we are reaping its benefits by paying less at the till? Let's get a bit more context.

The Curse of Cheap Clothing

I shop, therefore I am, is a slogan by Barbara Kruger, an artist who has something to say about the materialistic world and rising consumerism. Though this slogan was originally created in 1987, it has never rung more true for the present generation. It says, we are what we shop. We buy clothes that are trendy (and look as if they have come right off the runway) at a bargain price and can be thrown away after a few months of use. Going by this slogan, we are nothing but fast, cheap, and disposable. In fact, a Cambridge University study reveals that we buy four times more than what we did in 1980. This means, we are getting rid of that much stuff every year to make space in our closet for the "latest" fashion.

To accommodate the needs of the greedy consumers, manufacturers are making more clothes in less time. Zara, a Spanish clothing brand, reduced its manufacturing cycle to just 13 days. Similarly, Topshop of the UK proudly releases 300 new styles each week. The latest trends in fashion are being made available to the public quicker than ever before, for the purpose of instant gratification, at the expense of environment and social conscience.

Garment factory collapses, killing 1129. You may have read the headline recently and may have seen similar stories on the telly. These stories may just be sound bites and seem horrific to us, but they tell a tale of the deplorable conditions of a sweatshop―a common factor in the clothing industry. The fact is, the fashion industry has become dirty. Without getting on to the moral high-ground, let me draw your attention to the afterlife of the clothes that we so readily buy off the displays. These clothes usually end up in landfills.

Buy Less, Buy Better

The slow fashion movement prompts consumers to think before they buy. It urges people to buy trans-seasonal clothes, that are made with locally bought material, in an environment-friendly manufacturing process. As fast fashion is more about greed than speed, the proponents of its antithesis want to slow down a bit and focus on the quality instead of shorter lead time. This is not just about the lead time, it also encompasses the design and consumption. This concept started out after getting inspired by the Slow Food Movement, which propagated the pleasure of eating with responsibility and social awareness.

All in all, both the concepts speak about striking a balance in the quality of living. There are consumers who are waking up to the fact that buying something that is green and ethical, and which is an outcome of fair trade, will stay for a longer time than anything that is bought off the high street. It goes without saying that, this movement calls for a larger participation. It also asks people not to surrender to overconsumption and to embrace inventive reuse of existing clothes.
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