Have you been stumbling across slow fashion brands on the gram, and wondering what slow fashion actually means? Join the club.
As the hype over shopping local only increases, more slow fashion brands are emerging. This week, the Woman’s Guide team tapped Kate, designer and owner at the Kate Chad brand for a better understanding.
If you’re an aspiring fashion designer or entrepreneur, you’ll want a better understanding of the slow fashion movement. Keep reading to learn more from our latest interview with Kate.
What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion, simply put, is the reaction to the fairly recent rise of fast fashion. It is a combined movement within the fashion industry and in the community to be more thoughtful in the production and consumption of what we wear.
Such fashion companies focus on slower, more ethical production. They enable customers to invest in well made clothes that, if looked after properly, can last beyond their lifetime. These are brands that look to minimise their environmental and societal impact through their fabric choices, thoughtful design and localised production. Collections are created in small batches to avoid overproduction and there is no rush to constantly pump out new collections to feed the contrived desire for newness.
From the community perspective it is about mindful shopping. Loving what you buy, no matter how much it costs, and caring for and mending what you already have to extend its life as far as possible. It is avoiding buying something with the view of wearing it once or twice and then discarding it. Secondhand shops are overwhelmed with generous donations, often of clothes with tags still on that have been bought online and not returned because it would cost more than the garment itself. Advocates of slow fashion make thoughtful purchases. There is a view that you need to have a capsule wardrobe consisting only of minimal pieces to be part of the slow fashion crowd but I disagree with this. Fashion should still be a space for self expression and individuality, we just need to be more mindful and creative about where we source our treasured items from.
How is it a good business model for fashion brands?
There is a growing sense of responsibility towards protecting the environment among younger generations. This increased awareness and education should see a gradual shift in spending habits but honestly, this is going to be a slow process, so this business model is not for those ethically sitting on the fence. In the long term, brands have the potential to garner the support of the future, more enlightened, spenders but essentially they also need to encourage customers to buy less and that is tough when you have shareholders to report to.
Why is there increased attention over slow fashion today?
The acute attention that the pandemic has focused on the environment has not overlooked the fashion industry’s contribution to the problem, so sustainable fashion has become a huge topic at an accelerated rate. In addition to that, many small businesses arose as a result of job loss or working from home situations and that got a lot of coverage at the time. However, I don’t think the spotlight on slow fashion specifically has been magnified so it’s wonderful that you are highlighting it.
At the beginning of the pandemic there was a big push to shop local but that has tapered off as time has gone on and from what I see, more often than not people are talking about sustainable collections coming from big, fast fashion brands. Whilst this is also important progress to make, it tends to brush past the elements of slow fashion that crucially contribute to minimising waste and consumption and, just as importantly, fair trade and ethical manufacturing. Don’t forget, the fast fashion giants are still producing their organic cotton collections in the same factories that they are pumping 25 dirham t-shirts out of.
How competitive is the slow fashion industry?
Within the slow fashion industry there is a high level of mutual support and understanding so long as a brand is bringing its own unique perspective to the market. The more slow fashion brands there are, the better it is for the movement overall and the world in turn.
Our biggest competition remains fast fashion. The challenge of operating with slow fashion practices in a society that has cheap clothes so readily available is ever present. However, meeting new customers each day and hearing how happy they are to have the option to shop in unique and meaningful ways makes the slow process completely worthwhile.