Dr. RayeCarol Cavender is a Fashion Marketing professor whose research and classes focus on sustainable fashion. Dr. Cavender is a member of the International Textile and Apparel Association, the American Collegiate Retailing Association, and the National Retail Federation.
The Slow Fashion Movement is defined as slow production at the company level and slow consumption at the consumer level. We should focus on what we have direct control over as consumers and share about our lifestyle changes with friends and family!
Consumers have a lot of power. Here are 5 steps you can take to join the Slow Fashion Movement:
- Adopt a quality over quantity approach when building your wardrobe.
You can still be fashionable without solely buying trend pieces. Buy items that can be mixed and matched, worn in different ways, and that you want to keep for a long time.
- Research a brand’s transparency and then invest in pieces that are produced sustainably and with human rights in mind.
Sustainably produced products are often more expensive, but when a brand provides transparent information about the product’s cost, you can feel better since you know that cost ensures the material quality as well as ethical production of the garment. Spending more on your clothes may seem frivolous, but it is a good strategy to ensure that you can wear your apparel for a long time due to higher quality pieces!
Many smaller brands are “born sustainable,” meaning they have a sustainable business model. Find some smaller, sustainable brands that you love. This is also a great way to support small business entrepreneurship and means you will have more unique pieces that haven’t been mass produced. Plus, supporting local small businesses helps your neighbors and your community’s economy. Small brands based in the U.S. are also good choices because they have less environmental impact from shipping/logistics and are held to U.S. Labor Standards.
- Buy secondhand or rent clothing.
The secondhand industry is thriving and provides a great sustainable buying option. There are many high-end, secondhand resellers, which is a great way to get luxury products that are high-quality and long-lasting at lower prices than buying retail. There are a number of options to buy sustainable, from online marketplaces like ThredUp to stores such as Goodwill. Plus, it’s fun to find those treasures!
You can also rent when you know you are looking for a garment that you will only wear once or twice (e.g., sorority formal, weddings, and events).
- Repair your clothes instead of discarding them.
Just because a sweater or pants have a hole in them, doesn’t mean they have to be thrown away! Take the time to repair your clothes as necessary. You spent your money on them, so you probably like them a lot! Keep your favorite pieces for as long as possible.
- Explain to others why you don’t support the industry.
Help others understand how and why the fast fashion industry is a major source of greenwashing. Because fast fashion companies like H&M, Inditex, boohoo, and ASOS are so large (i.e., have so much money), they can negatively shape the narrative of sustainability by investing in some areas while not changing their business models that are built on overproduction at the company level and fuel overconsumption at the consumer level.
Learn more from this useful article, “A Complete List of 25 Fast Fashion Brands to Avoid and Why.”
It may seem daunting to take on the fast fashion industry. But by educating yourself and understanding your power as a consumer, you can start making the sustainable changes that will ultimately benefit you, the environment, and laborers across the world. Together, we can make small changes for great results.
Originally published September 7th, 2021