SLOW Fashion: SAVE Part 1. A Global View

A photo by Jeff Sheldon.

When you look at the idea of SLOW fashion, it is in essence the antithesis of ‘fast fashion’, or our globalization of the apparel industry by expediting the scale & speed-to-market in which garments are delivered.

To truly try to turn the negative impact of our fast-paced clothing consumption, we need to adopt the idea of “shopping SLOW = SAVE, LOVE, OWN, WEAR” in which case, the first tenant is to not shop retail at all, but to “save” and “repurpose” what you already own. In order to begin to understand why we must go SLOW, let’s first take a deeper dive into what “save” can truly mean :

SAVE Part 1. A Global View

SAVE is to save the planet, the environment. I liken our clothing overconsumption to our water bottle epidemic. No not with a gyre out in the Pacific Ocean but with a filling of landfills an increase in toxic chemical imbedded in the end-product, polluting our air and water, populations and supply chains. We are left with waste.

SAVE is to save our humanity.This problem is not just about how we shop and the environment but also about how and where apparel is made. Following the fall of Primark’s Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, a disaster costing 1000s of workers’ lives and exposing the growing horrors of apparel labor factories in the developing worlds, what has changed? Unfortunately, not much. How do we change an industry that took globalization and ran with it untethered simply for profit?

‘The True Cost’ is a documentary about the ‘fast fashion industry’ and the massive problems caused by the current global clothing economy.

SAVE is to save money. I’m not speaking about your personal budget, I’m referring to the economic breakdown that fast fashion is causing in our society.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 Consumer Survey, Americans’ spend on “Apparel and Services” increased by 11% between 2013 and 2014, to $1,786 per household per year. Though in most urban economies that sum doesn’t feel like much, due to the fact that the majority of the clothing purchased was incredibly cheap—as in American’s are buying imported manufactured clothing at an astounding rate and buying in bulk.

Both small and large-scale manufacturing design, logistics and distribution are occurring in the U.S. a la companies like Forever 21 (see the L.A. Jobber Market and more on the in the below referenced article from 2014), but the demand for fast fashion is ever-increasing, and the conditions in this country are not up to economic standards to maintain constant global demand and supply either.

‘The Secret World of Fast Fashion’ is a brief look into the U.S. participation in the global apparel push.

Over the past 15 years, the fashion industry has undergone a profound and baffling transformation. What used to be a stable three-month production cycle — …

Photo Source: The Secret World of Fast Fashion

Thus, in order for the U.S. to keep up, they’re going to have to outsource manufacturing to even less-expensive countries or change the current culture’s consumption habits.

In SAVE Part 2. A Local Look I talk about what we can do as consumers to apply “Shopism” principles to help mitigate some of the problem on a personal level.