Slow Fashion

November 3, 2022
Slow Fashion

by Becky Walton, MLIS

Living in a time when clothes are relatively inexpensive and easily acquired can have both positive and negative consequences. On one hand, cheap and plentiful clothing is convenient for our workaday, busy lives; on the other hand, this has created a throwaway culture with increased volume in landfills and unsafe and low-paying working conditions in garment factories. According to one Forbes article, Americans buy a new piece of clothing every five days. And this Encircled article, with a striking garment lifecycle infographic, reveals that 90% of clothing is discarded before it’s worn out.

In her author's note in Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-Dye, & Love Your Wardrobe, Katrina Rodabaugh wrote that she started her fast-fashion fast after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh. This disaster killed 1,134 and injured 2,500 people.

In The Day the World Stops Shopping, J. B. MacKinnon wrote that humans are using up the planet at a rate of 1.7 times faster than it can regenerate. In the face of our consumerism, he contemplated that we've responded not by reducing our consumption, but by "greening" it. And this may not be sustainable.

Because of this, the trend of “slow fashion” has arisen. Kate Fletcher is credited with first discussing the concept in 2007. It essentially means that you become mindful of where and how the clothes you buy are made and you repair them when they’re torn and worn rather than throwing them away.

One aspect of slow fashion is knowing where and how your clothing is made. Is it locally sourced and produced? Was care and honor given to the workers, environment, and cultural connections? Is the focus on quality over quantity?

Once you’ve made a conscious decision about purchasing a garment, make it last as long as possible. In her first book, Mending Matters, Katrina Rodabaugh wrote about “mendfulness”: taking time to mend clothing can be a form of meditation. We can remember that everything has a beginning and an end. But we can become a bit more self-reliant when we understand how clothing is made and how we can make it live a longer life.  

Similarly, the Japanese have the concept of sashiko, which employs visible stitching on indigo-dyed cloth and dates back to the 1600s.  

Some public libraries (such as Sequoyah Regional Library System in Georgia) are making it easy for their communities to embrace this trend by lending sewing machines.

You probably have some beloved articles of clothing that are torn or missing a button. We invite you to “slow” down and visit this list of titles that explain more about not-so-fast fashion, mindful mending, and the ongoing consequences of consumerism.

Slow Fashion

You May Also Like