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  • Writer's pictureJudith van Dijk

It’s Slow Fashion Season! Have you joined yet?

Have you been tempted to rush out and buy new clothes now that non-essential shops have been allowed to re-open their doors? Take a moment to pause and ask yourself, is it really necessary?

Covid-19 is having devastating effects on the retail industry, with UK consumers predicted to spend 30% less than usual in stores this year, according to GlobalData. There have already been casualties with Debenhams, Oasis, Warehouse and Monsoon-Accessorise entering administration.

What’s happening on our doorstep has a cataclysmic long-tail effect that ripples all the way down the fashion supply chain, with the most vulnerable, lowest paid people in the industry suffering the most.

“As big high street brands rush to cancel orders and stop payment on stock already produced for them, the supply chain is experiencing an economic melt-down with many of their garment workers now facing destitution”

There is no doubt that the fashion industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and you may therefore feel that rushing out to buy new clothes is your contribution to helping get this sector back on its feet. However, we really need to ask ourselves whether we want the 3rd most polluting industry on our planet back to the way it was before.

There are plenty involved in the fashion industry that feel Covid-19 is ‘The perfect moment’ for it to embrace change. Take for instance Dame Anna Wintour. In a recent interview with Naomi Campbell, she said:

“It's an opportunity for all of us to look at our industry and to look at our lives, and to rethink our values, and to really think about the waste, and the amount of money, and consumption, and excess that we have all indulged in and how we really need to rethink what this industry stands for."

Yet, as fashion stores re-opens

Last week, as non-essential shops including fashion retailers were allowed to re-open there was an audible sigh of relief. Practically jubilant headlines reported on the “enormous queues” outside a number of ‘fast fashion’ stores - the biggest contributors to fashion pollution.

More mind-blowing than the urgent need for shopping therapy, was the huge quantity of bags shoppers were leaving the store with. Bear in mind this was not a desperate rush to horde essentials, as was the case going into lockdown, but more an obsessive need for a fashion fix.

Honestly, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s actually a habit we find extremely hard to kick, but is it all our fault? Back in March ‘The Guardian’ published an article, The Guardian view on fast fashion: it can’t cost the earth, impressing upon us the need to re-consider our insatiable appetite for ‘throwaway’ clothes.

"How we dress feeds off cravings to be different as well as part of a tribe. The message from the high street is that such wishes can be fulfilled, and fast fashion plays on the idea that hunger can be sated immediately"

Let's slow it down a bit

In an attempt to halt the careering ‘fast fashion’ train before it destroys everything in its path, there’s been a growing movement advocating change. It includes manufacturers, brands, industry professionals, environmental and humanitarian organisations all raising awareness on adopting an alternative ‘slow fashion’ approach.

The term ‘slow fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. It promotes a more ethical and sustainable way of conscious consuming,

basically, opposing ‘fast fashion’ and the rapid production of cheap clothing in surpluse volumes often at the expense of humans and our environment.

“We need to show less and have more of an emphasis on sustainability, maybe we just all need to slow down and enjoy it much more and not always be saying what’s new, what’s next” - Dame Anna Wintour

The industry, for too long, has encouraged overconsumption as a good thing. It’s time for change, not just from within the industry, but also our collective mentality towards fashion and our compulsive excessive buying behaviours.

Collectively, we have the power to incite change

Two years ago, a crowd action initiative called ‘Slow Fashion Season’ was founded. It was launched to coincide with the summer season and the urgency to fill our wardrobes with the latest trends. The ‘Slow Fashion Season’ crowd action aims to build a community that not only has a direct effect on consumption, but also a growing voice calling for transformation in the industry.

The 2020 “Slow Fashion Season’ has just kicked off. The idea is to get as many people as possible to commit to making conscious fashion choices for the next 3 months.

What exactly are conscious choices?

1. First and foremost, ask yourself: do you really need it

  • Do a quick wardrobe analysis

  • Can you upcycle or DIY some items?

  • Maybe swap or trade with a friend

2. If you really do need it…

  • Try to buy second-hand or vintage

  • Choose sustainable fashion labels

  • Consider borrowing or renting the item

3. Avoid bulk buying fast fashion just because it’s cheap

  • More often than not it’s a waste of your money

"Can we really justify rushing out to stand for hours in a queue just to buy something that has been produced cutting humanitarian and environmental corners for the sake of profit?"

Now more than ever, we should be asking ourselves whether it is normal to have such a compulsive dependency to buy bags of stuff we really don’t need, that we will probably hardly wear and most likely will end up in the bin. Especially given the past three months when we’ve had time to reflect on what really matters!



Ps: I’ve joined the 'Slow Fashion Season' crowd, follow my Facebook and Instagram to see me take on the 3 month challenge and share my resources, ideas and tips on how to be sustainably fashionable.

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