How To Start Your Own Slow Fashion Journey
You’ve probably heard about fast and slow fashion from fellow makers or have seen articles and posts on the subject. And it’s very hard not to turn to some kind of slow fashion once you find out about the true cost of fast fashion on the environment and on people.
In addition, crafting and creating items for the home or to wear seems to be becoming more acceptable even in fashion circles — or at least among those who are aware of the environmental impact their making.
In their 2020 article, 3 Women on the Joy of Making Your Own Clothes, Murray and Thorpe argues that “…a DIY ethos is back en vogue. Equal parts mindfulness, activism, and creativity, it’s joyful resistance and sartorial originality all rolled into one”.
So how do you go about lessening your fashion footprint through yarn crafts like crochet, knitting, and Tunisian crochet? In this article, we’ll give you some tips to get started!
Before we get to the tips, however, it’s good to know what the difference between “fast fashion” and “slow fashion” is.
What is fast fashion?
The magazine Town & Country sums fast fashion up very well by noting that it’s fashion manufactured at “warp speed”. Certain companies are churning out new items based on clothing worn by celebrities or on the walkway so fast that you can see items of clothing in shops only a few days after they’ve “starred” on a celebrity’s Instagram.
In fast fashion, the idea of being at the forefront of fashion and style comes first. The quality of the garments mostly doesn’t seem to matter as it’s expected that they’ll be worn only an average of 7 times before being either thrown away or given to charity or secondhand shops.
Billions of tonnes of clothing end up in the landfill without even being worn!
You can only imagine the toll that this mass production has on the environment — think about air and water pollution for a start. But the cost is also in ethics, human rights, and even human lives.
Big companies, looking for the fastest and cheapest ways to make their clothing often sub-contract the manufacturing work. Safety and labor regulations in the countries where the cheapest labor is found, however, too often leaves much to be desired.
Many people are now standing up against this form of consumerism and exploitation of people on ethical grounds. What they are after — or are creating themselves — is slow fashion.
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion strives to be the antithesis of fast fashion. Instead of focusing on how fast and cheap a garment can be created — regardless of the impact on the environment and people’s lives — slow fashion focuses on ethical choices. These ethical choices has to do both with the working conditions of the person(s) making the garment, but also with the impact that it has on the environment.
For example, fabric is chosen that is made from natural and sustainable materials as much as possible (instead of acrylics). Even the dye used on the fabric should give as little harm to the environment as possible. Some slow fashion advocates advocate that only natural dyes should be used.
The people making the garments should also have a safe working environment as well as fair pay (a living wage) for their time.
Because so many products can’t be completely traced to their sources, many makers have decided to make all or most of their clothes, or have seen this as the push they needed to learn how to make clothes.
Clothes can also be made in smaller factories in smaller batches at higher quality if the main purpose of the clothing is to wear it for a few seasons at least.
These handmade items doesn’t just have to be sewn, of course, but can be made through crochet, knitting, and Tunisian crochet.
How to start your own slow fashion journey
If you’ve never made your own clothes, starting on a slow fashion journey can be daunting, but don’t worry — here are some easy tips to get you started.
Don’t throw out your stash or wardrobe
So you’re staring at your closet, wondering whether you should be throwing out all your clothes. Or maybe you’re staring at your stash of yarn, realizing that natural fibers make up only a small percentage of it. Should you throw everything away to start your slow fashion journey?
The answer is “definitely not”. Someone still worked to make those garments and that yarn. You can show respect to those individuals by wearing your clothes (or mending them and wearing them again) until they’ve been worn out. You can also use your stash and, as you buy new yarn, buy yarn that’s been (more) ethically produced or has a lower impact on the environment.
You can, however, really look at your clothing and stash and, if they’ve become too big, you can decide to either sell some of it, give it to charity, etc.
Look to an ethical future
Now that you know that your fashion choices has a bigger effect on the world than the number of likes on social media, you can start to look at the kind of wardrobe that you’d like to have.
Your wardrobe doesn’t need to be a capsule wardrobe of course, but you may not have to buy clothes for quite some time if you already have a lot of clothes. What this break in buying clothes means, is that you have time to find clothing that really suits you or your personality. You’ll also have time to save for more expensive garments (or yarn… don’t forget the yarn!).
Take care of what you have
You can let your clothes last longer by following the instructions on the label and separating the different colors, etc. before you wash them.
The same goes for garments you’ve knitted or crocheted — in fact, you have to be extra careful with natural fibers, as a wool sweater washed in a hot wash or tumble dried will felt, leaving you with a small, unwearable lump of felt.
It’s a good idea to take note which of the wool yarns you have are superwash and which aren’t. The last thing you want is your hard work being felted by accident!
Basic sewing and mending skills can also be learned in no time. You can even use your imagination and use visible mending. Be sure to read our article on visible mending: Mending and Visible Mending in Knitting and Crochet.
Dress with personality
Remember that a wardrobe that lasts don’t have to be a boring wardrobe. Making accessories through crochet, knitting, and Tunisian crochet can brighten up any outfit and makes it look like new!