My personal research into sustainable menswear is, admittedly. in it’s very early stages. So much so that only today I first came across the term ‘slow fashion’. Given that the phrase was (according to Wikipedia) first coined in 2007, I now feel like I’ve been living under a non-sustainable rock for the last thirteen years.
All the more reason then to get focused and start learning.
What I’ve learned so far about slow fashion
I started with Wikipedia. Yes I know…Wikipedia isn’t a particularly credible source but this isn’t an academic dissertation; it’s just me trying to learn stuff and it’s somewhere to start!
So…slow fashion according to Wikipedia (in no particular order):
Involves local artisans.
Ok, does this mean ‘local’ to me i.e I should be spending my money with clothing producers that are geographically close to me? I haven’t made an immediate connection as to why this is important, other than I assume the transportation of finished clothes is less environmentally impacting if you’re getting them locally? That makes sense, but I suspect there’s a lot more to this point that I need to understand.
Involves the use of eco-friendly materials.
Later on in the article there’s a definition: recycled, organic, or re-purposed materials. Ok, that all makes sense.
Has the goal of preserving crafts.
I’m not totally sure what crafts are being referred to here. This seems like an important objective if you’re specifically concerned about crafts dying out. To be honest though, I started on this journey because I was worried about how my behaviour was impacting our environment; is preserving crafts part of that? I’m not sure. Again I think I probably need to do more research.
Has the goal of protecting the environment.
Yep, I’m on board with that.
Involves repositioning the strategies of design, production, consumption, use, and reuse.
Wow. I feel like there’s a lot to unpack in that statement and it probably requires a more in-depth understanding of how the fashion industry currently works (as you’ve probably guessed by this point, I don’t work in fashion). But I get the principle; to get a different outcome you have do something differently.
Is a direct counter-approach to established norm of the fashion industry i.e. Fast Fashion.
I think I might understand broadly what fast-fashion is; people buying lots of clothes on a regular basis in an attempt to look fresh and/or fashionable, encouraged by low-cost clothing? I read something about this, which is what got me started on this line of enquiry. In the past I’ve regularly bought clothes from H&M who I understand are a key protagonist in this space. I suspect that could be an area of personal change coming, but I don’t want to preempt what I’m learning…
Balanced between concerns about the environment and about ethics.
Again, my initial interest was how I’m impacting the environment. I like to think I care about ethics as well, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind when I started this? I suspect however I’m going to find out these things are linked.
Encourages conscious buying decisions.
Makes sense to me. The fact I’m sitting here trying to learn and rationalise all this is me attempting to be more conscious about I’m buying.
Practices associated with slow fashion include but are not limited to buying vintage clothes, redesigning old clothes, shopping from smaller producers, making clothes and accessories at home and buying garments that last longer.
Er, ok. My expectation when I set out here was that somehow my clothing purchasing decisions would become better targeted, but making my own clothes? I’ve never sewn anything in my life! Buying garments that lasts longer; sounds good. Shopping from smaller producers; ok I’m down for that, although I’m not sure where to start. Buying vintage clothes; I’ve never considered that before but I suppose I’m open to the idea. Can I just do the more conscious purchasing thing? Is that enough?
Initial thoughts on all this
I have to admit, part of me is already a little worried about having set out on this journey, because I actually really like buying clothes. I enjoy the process of thinking about and building a style. I like the idea of building a wardrobe of clothes that are versatile. I want to dress in a contemporary way. Does that all have to go out of the window because I also want to commit to making better choices for the environment?
In other words, can I have both?
There were, however, some encouraging statements in the Wikipedia article. It describes producing clothes of better quality, higher versatility and that provide a deeper emotional or cultural connection to the consumer. All these things result in people keeping an article of clothing for longer. This all sounds good!
Where do I go next?
Clearly I need to better educate myself about some of the points listed above. I need to understand more about the comments relating to artisans and preserving crafts. I need to start looking into ‘smaller producers’ and I need to start understanding more about the use of eco-friendly materials in clothes.
I’m hoping that all that results in clothes that I’m still excited to purchase and wear…let’s see!
(Any pointers, help and constructive advice are very welcome)