What is Slow Fashion?
Slow Fashion is a newer term used to describe a way of manufacturing clothing that is eco-friendly, ethically produced, and lasting.
Slow fashion is NOT about sacrificing quality and working conditions to make as many clothes as cheaply as possible, only to mark them down at the end of the season and toss what hasn’t sold into the incinerator.
Fast Fashion = Trash Fashion
The current status quo of the fashion industry has encouraged throw-away behavior from consumers. Buy a shirt or dress, wear it for one occasion, and discard it.
In Singapore alone, according to the National Environmental Agency, the little red dot generated 156,700 tonnes of textile and leather waste in 2015. This includes used clothing, linen and bags. Only 8% of which was recycled.
This is apparently “not bad” compared to European nations, and is comparable to Hong Kong. In 2014, only 16% of textiles were recycled in the US.
“The production of one pair of jeans requires 3.625 liters of water, 400 mJ of energy, 3 kg of chemicals. And if we incinerate jeans then it makes a mockery of global sustainability,” said the CEO of Redress, Christina Dean.
But... I donate!
“Meanwhile, “The amount of "donated" stuff left at The [Singapore] Salvation Army goes up three times during peak periods like the month leading up to Christmas or Chinese New Year. Cast-off clothes tend to form the bulk of the unwanted. The racks that line the aisles at the organisation's five thrift stores are packed tightly with clothes of varying patterns, sizes and brands, some evidently brand-new with tags still attached.”
Back in the US, Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Fast Fashion, explains:
“There are just far more unwanted clothes in the United States than there is demand.” “Charities receive far, far more unwanted clothing donation than they could ever possibly sell in their thrift stores, so they have relationships with other textile sorting and exporting companies who can find a place to sell those clothes and find another market for them to go.”
Big brands trash their own product.
Brands enable and encourage consumer behavior with “disposable fashion,” mass over-production and end-of-season clearance events. Unfortunately, much of what is produced, is never worn.
For instance, H&M is one of several brands previously in hot water for incinerating 60 tonnes of clothing since 2013. Mails from the brand claimed water damage is an issue, justifying incineration for health & safety issues, but journalists selected garments from the pile at random to find nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, brand, Bestseller burned 49.2 tons of clothes, jewelry and shoes in 2016, and it was recently reported that Burberry burned $37 Million dollars worth of product “to protect its brand.”
Wouldn’t it be better to protect your brand (and the planet) by optimizing your sales forecasting and limiting production appropriately?
Without even factoring in what it costs (in resources) to make garments, fast fashion has a detrimental impact on our environment. It is simply not sustainable as the world’s population, and global middle class grows.
Emerging brands lead change.
New brands are embracing slow fashion characteristics in their offering—encouraging consumers to shop wisely, and buy with a vision for the future.
- “Responsibly made”: assuring what we buy is made responsibly, with fair labor practices, and intelligent sourcing of responsibly made fabrics, despite higher costs
- “Eco-friendly”: assuring what we buy is made with materials whose own production doesn’t harm the planet or the communities from which they come, and perhaps have a story about how they are expertly designed and crafted
- “Small batches / Limited editions”: brands intentionally limiting order quantities of styles to assure sell-out before there’s a need for a sale
- “Lasting quality”: assuring what we buy will indeed last – that with our care of the garment it will be proudly worn for years to come, perhaps even handed down
And it’s a win-win for brands and consumers.
Brands increase value perception of their products and are seen as leaders in a changing world.
Meanwhile, consumers may pay more, but end up with higher quality garments that last. They can now combine an arguably superficial statement about "style" with one of substance about responsible living.
Big brands are changing for the good.
Do a google search for eco-friendly fashion brands and you'll have plenty of content to read through. With these shifting consumer attitudes and increased competition, big brands are following suit.
Anna Gedda, the head of sustainability at H&M claims By 2030, all of the products that H&M makes will come from more sustainable or recycled sources, and is now featuring a sustainable collection, H&M Conscious, to spearhead sustainable practices and help drive innovation within the business.
Meanwhile, Patagonia has been an early champion for sustainable business practices, demanding responsible manufacturing partners, and even publishing their partners for anyone to investigate. They have spearheaded the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, of which there are 49 members "which represent a third of all clothing and shoes made on the planet." One last example is their Worn Wear site, where you can shop for used Patagonia clothing, list your own items for sale, and even trade in used clothing for credit in-store.
We hope this is a sign of other major - and emerging - brands hopping on the slow fashion bandwagon and using their influence to shift the industry, and consumers to more sustainable practices.
We are a slow fashion brand.
At KOV [cove], we vet our manufacturing partners to assure responsible business practices and quality components, opting for other small businesses seeking to grow within their means.
We also order small quantities of our designs, and base repeat orders on actual demand.
Storage bags for each garment are made from plant cellulose, not plastic, which have a far better impact on our environment.
And finally, we refrain from steep product discounts, which we believe only encourages impulse sales and a disposable mindset.
We take great pride in our original apparel and hope to generate fans that show their appreciation by wearing them for years to come.