I've just tweaked my article on Slow fashion, there's some stuff going on that the High Street doesn't want us to think about, and it's important that we hear an alternative view from time to time.
I know it's a subject that always gets a lot of cages rattled, but I honestly believe that ultimately we don't have a choice. It seems to boil down to a question of money vs. morals which is where it can get sticky, but I'm passionate about changing the way we think about what we wear. Please, please discuss, it's unsustainable and inhumane the way it stands, so should we be changing it? Or should we ignore it and bury our heads?
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The Slow Fashion movement, based on the same principals as 'Slow Food', brings us an alternative approach to the unrelenting speed with which the High Street fashion industry produces and sells it's garments.
High Street clothes are made as quickly as possible, with every corner cut, profit is the driving force behind every stitch. Marketed to be quickly used and disposed of, these throw away clothes give ever-higher profits to the big fashion chains who feed on this wasteful and cyclical consumption pattern.
We are all positively encouraged to buy cheap one off pieces, weekly or daily, and then purge our wardrobes every season, it's International Fashion Bulimia by any other name.
But, lets be very clear, fast fashion isn’t really about speed, but greed: selling more, making more money. Time, labour, and natural resources are neglected in the pursuit of maximum profits.
But fast is never free.
Within corsetry, the market is saturated with cheap satin corsets from China, and leather corsets from India, which last for one wear, if you're lucky (although they just as often split when you put them on for the first time).
Daily I receive 5 or 6 spam emails offering to sell me corsets cheaper, faster, better, longer etc, sometimes they've even stolen my photos to put on their website as their own work.
And these same corsets, are all over Ebay, and all over those cheap corset shops, and women's sex shops. I was recently talking to a customer services manager, who without any cynacism explained to me, that the corsets they were selling were so rubbish, they expected 50% return rate, which they could afford to refund without question and still make a profit.
Yet the satin or leather in super-cheap, ‘value’ or fast fashion corsets is no quicker to make or use than any of my corsets. It takes just as long to sew, and cut.
Short lead times and cheap clothes are only made possible by exploitation of labour and natural resources.
Sweat shops, pesticides, pollution, child labour and animal cruelty are just some examples of how fast fashion chains and, by extension, retailers maintain their high profit margins on the super cheap stock that they sell.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. We can design a different system for ourselves that makes money while respecting the rights of workers and the environment, and produces beautiful and conscientious garments.
Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based. Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.
Slow fashion suggestions:
- Opposing/boycotting mass produced fashion (AKA "Fast-Fashion" or "McFashion").
- Choosing artisan products to support smaller business/fair trade/or locally made.
- Choosing sustainable clothing made with sustainable/recycled fabrics and/or is ethically made.
- Choosing quality garments that will last longer, transcend trends (a "classic" style), and/or be repairable.
- Slowing the rate of fashion consumption: buying fewer clothes less often.
Lastly, I'd like to credit Jed Phoenix Of London, the alternative and kinky fashion designer, for inspiring me to write this piece. Her finger is, as ever, on the pulse of Zeitgeist.