Over the past six months, I have been reading books and teaching myself a lot. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely the kind of person who gets an idea and then just wants to know how to make it instantly. I am not patient enough to practice, practice, practice in order to become an expert. Sometimes I have to take a breath, slow down, and realize that I am quite knowledgeable and that I have come a long way in my making and design abilities. I don’t need to add anxiety to the gradual process of living and learning. Instead, I need to stay present. When I am present, I absorb the most knowledge, notice my surroundings, and naturally become inspired.
I have alluded to fast vs. slow fashion in previous posts, but I want to dig in more. Before delving into the beauty of slow fashion, I want to quickly define fast fashion. It is exactly those words: getting apparel from the runway to the consumer as fast as possible to meet the demand of quick trends. The products are inexpensive for the consumer, but are also cheaply made and won't stand the test of time. It is quick response manufacturing that garment makers are literally dying for. Check out the documentary True Cost to know more. Fast fashion reaps havoc on our environment and everyone involved, even consumers. As a consumer, you end up wearing chemicals and throwing away apparel (and thus, money) that falls apart within months. As designer Alicia Reguera said, “People don’t value what they buy anymore.”
On the other hand, slow fashion is considerate of process and makers. It recognizes that designers, artists, makers, factory workers, and the hands behind it all don’t come cheaply or free. It defines itself with classic looks and staple pieces that are an investment and can be worn for years and even passed down. Slow fashion sticks with spring/summer and fall/winter timelines vs. the weekly release of cheap apparel. I read somewhere that women used to buy 8-12 pieces of clothing/year, and since the 1980s that number has skyrocketed to an average of 70 pieces/year. Go back to the basics and buy what will last.
I try and value what I buy, but what I value even more is what I make, which is perhaps the truest form of slow fashion. The dress that I am wearing in my photos is one that I made. As I mentioned above, I have been teaching myself quite a bit the last 6 months. While I am nowhere near having a finished line, this dress was the first dress I draped and made my own pattern for. I wanted it to be a basic shift dress with a little bohemian flare. On top of making the pattern, I hand-dyed the maroon fabric from a low-impact dye that I blended. The woven fabric is from a piece that I brought back from Vietnam. Although I am not sure if the dress will make the cut, I am proud of what went into it.
Garment workers are some of the most skilled crafts people in the world, yet undervalued. Carry Somers, founder of Fashion Revolution Day, reports that, “86% of fashion brands are not trying to pay a living wage to the workers in their supply chains.” Frequently when I travel I find myself envious of the craftsmanship that is in front of me. I have had women in Honduras, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India look at me like I am insane when I tell them I want to learn how to weave, dye, and embroider from them. After all, they are the experts! The difference is they do it for less than a living wage.