30th September 2020

Life in the slow lane

Roberto Bagnoli, designer, shoots straight from the hip when it comes to ethical fashion.

We’ve all done it, we’ve all been there – “I just need a cheap pair of jeans I can wear every week without feeling over/underdressed” or “That jumper looks good and I can get it for that do I’m going to tomorrow night, and it’ll be delivered by tomorrow morning” or even “I can’t justify spending the earth on something I’m going to wear into oblivion in less than a year”.

Fast fashion has taken over our lives through convenience and unbeatable pricing.

I’d be the first to admit that when I shop for groceries, I do the usual – What brand is it? Do they use organic ingredients? Where is it sourced? Do I know if that company treats their employees well with fair pay? But I seldom apply the same processes to when I buy clothes. 5 pack of t-shirts from ASOS with next day delivery for £20? Sign me up.

Slow fashion is not a new concept, but it is starting to sweep through the fashion industry.

It’s a backlash to the current, albeit waning, trend of fast-fashion.

It stems from the principle of creating sustainable clothing from organically grown or recycled materials, created with environmentally friendly practises, with a view to long term usage as opposed to the ‘one and done’ lifecycle of fast fashion counterparts.

For quite a while, slow-fashion priced out the average consumer as, understandably, with more processes and care comes a higher cost. But as behaviours in consumers change and people start to invest in more ‘long-term’ products over the latest trend/collection it seems people are willing to pay a little more to get a little more.

This was my experience while I was picking up a pair of discounted jeans by a brand called Nudie. I’d heard of them before but knew nothing about the brand.

Their particular concept is based around using a high percentage of sustainable material and offer customers not only discounts for bringing in old denim products to be recycled but a free repair for life service no matter when or where you bought their product.

This means that in 2019 alone they repaired 63,281 pairs of jeans which kept over 50,000 kilos of clothes from being thrown away which in turn saved 443 million litres of water that would otherwise be used to dispose of the clothes or be used to produce more.

They aren’t the only company to employ environmental tactics though – Lucy and Yak for example use only organic materials, pay their staff in North India four times the state minimum wage and use 100% recycled and biodegradable packaging materials for postage. And Pangaia even go as far as using recycled plastic providing that ‘cool with a conscience’ factor.

The reality is that fast fashion, while passing its hay-day, will still be around as long as people have a need for cheap essentials (I’m looking at you Primark).

I know it’s difficult to always apply conscience to purchases, if we did, we’d end up never leaving the house (more so than usual at present) or worse still, we’d bankrupt ourselves. But besides the comforting pat on the back of ‘I’ve done the right thing’ and a bragging point at your next social gathering of 6 or less, it would be nice to take comfort in knowing that buying a pair of trainers made from recycled ocean plastic or buying a pair of jeans you know will last a lifetime that you have done just a little bit to stem the rising trend of wastefulness and convenience that seems to consciously or subconsciously dominate society.

Invest in slow fashion, not just for the next generation, not to impress your Twitter followers or social circle, but so you can sleep easy knowing you’ve done your bit to influence change and also so you don’t have to worry about wearing away holes in your jean thighs in this lifetime.