Why 'Slow Fashion' is going supersonic
Emma Watson wears Zady cable-knit pullover and Veja trainers
Socially-aware clothing has been hovering on the radar for a while. Of course, there have always been the standout labels that have championed ethical production. Stella McCartney is one designer famous for her commitment to sustainable ideals. Yet designers like Stella have tended to be the exception in an industry that has been plagued by problems with transparency and accusations of exploiting cheap labour. The last decade of supercharged high street churn-and-burn fast fashion has taken its toll, ‘engendering a race to the bottom to find ever cheaper sources of labour’ (The Guardian/UNICEF report on Child Labour).
However, consumers are waking up. More and more labels are ensuring that their clothes are not just well-made but made ethically. Plus promoting that has become a key part of their USP. The “Slow Fashion” movement is well and truly away.
So, what exactly does 'slow fashion' entail?
1 in 6 of the world’s workers is in the apparel industry – and most of these are women or children earning less than $3 a day. That’s a staggering statistic that underscores the importance of ethical production, fair trade and the fostering of local artisans and manufacturers. Here are some of the major things to look out for:
Garments that are made with care and craft will last longer. Developing a piece with a cultural and emotional connection is also important. Consumers that are personally invested in a piece of clothing will look after it and keep it longer.
Many factors go into considering whether a material is sustainable. How renewable is the source of the fibre? Where is it grown? This, as well as the process of how it is turned into a textile – all count.
Label Mayamiko hand picks their textiles from the local fabrics market in Malawi and work with a cooperative of women traders to source the most exclusive prints, meaning that there are only 10-15 pieces made with that fabric. Handmade fabrics might not be perfect but their artisanal qualities add to their uniqueness. Their gorgeous batiks and tie-dyed fabrics are hand-dyed by locally trained artisans at the Malawi Council for the Handicapped.
Mayamiko Lily Sunseeker Mini Dress in Bright Pink
Ethical Working Conditions
Do you know where your clothes were made? One of the biggest problems pervading the fashion industry is the abuse of cheap labour. Fair trade clothing is transparent about where it is made and also fosters fair wages and working conditions.
Overall Carbon Footprint
The worldwide clothing industry is responsible yearly for about 850 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The way we buy and treat our clothing has a correspondingly huge potential for improving the environment. Buying local, buying organic and buying better quality but fewer clothes can have a massive impact.
There are some very cool companies on the block that are ticking all of these boxes, including Behno, Edun and current It Girl cult-label Tome. The latter take an holistic approach to business and source sustainably made materials from local manufacturers.
TOME Turquoise Silk Sweater and Pants
There are also some well-known figures supporting sustainable brands, with some great collaborations over the last couple of years:
Emma Watson & Zady
Emma Watson actively promotes environmental causes and eco-fashion. Zady is still a fairly new kid on the block – it was founded in 2013 as an online retailer that only stocked socially conscious brands. A year later they launched their own sustainably made range. Fan Emma Watson approached the nascent label to create a capsule collection for her to wear, inspired by her style. The limited edition pieces are produced sustainably from high quality raw materials.
Pharrell Williams and G Star RAW
Pharrell was recently named Head of Imagination of Dutch Denim brand G Star RAW. The brand's 'RAW for the Oceans' sustainable capsule collections are made from recycled single use plastic containers that are collected from shorelines around the world and transformed into street-chic clothing.
2017 is the year to start thinking seriously about where your clothing and products come from. Grace & Green are dedicated to an holistic business approach and creating beautiful products for women that are better for the planet, as well as their bodies.