MAKE THE SWITCH from fast fashion to slow fashion
So, for the past 20 years, we’ve been designing, making and selling clothing with natural fibre fabrics. Before sustainability became a way to describe what we do, quality and longevity in materials, design, construction and wearability was - and still is - our focus. They continue to be the guiding principles of our practice. Years ahead of our time? No. Old fashioned, perhaps. Slow and steady - yes!
I was invited to chat with Glen James and Laura Robertson on the My Millennial Money podcast, and the interview prompted a blog post for M3 and this one here for you to explore further. My sisters and I talk a lot and our processes and decisions are deeply and personally informed. Chatting with My Millennial Money has been a terrific way to share our conversations and ideas, in the hope to inspire good actions and outcomes.
Make the switch from fast fashion to slow fashion.
Why is the average Australian the second largest consumer of textiles and clothing in the world? That’s 27kg per year.
Why does approximately 23kg of these purchases end up in landfill? That’s 85% of money, resources – wasted.
Why is it ONLY 15% of our clothing and textiles recovered, recycled, re-sold, re-purposed and re-used?
When we think about fast fashion, we think shopping malls of big brands mass-producing catwalk copies, compulsive shopping and addictive behaviour, excessive quantities of trendy, short-lived garments made in sub-standard garment factories. You have no idea who made the shirt you’re wearing, and you have no connection to any of the ways it was produced. If the shirt costs less than a cup of coffee, surely your humanity would shudder to consider what that price tag really means.
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.”
- Lucy Siegle, author
Sort your closet out.
OK so, you can do this. Fast fashion is out of fashion, for good. Slow and sustainable is the new normal, for keeps. Fast track to the way things were and pace yourself into the future.
Everyone lives on different budgets, and some clothing choices are more affordable than others. But fast fashion often leads to a throwaway mindset. Change your mindset to make better clothing choices. Slow down the way you consume fashion and increase the use and care for your clothes.
We don’t have all the answers but we do have some tips on how you can start to sort your closet out and make the shift from fast fashion to slow fashion.
1/ Start where you are.
Observe which clothes you wear all the time. Keep the ones that have value to you. Remove the garments that don’t. Organise remaining clothes in your closet so you can access them easily.
2/ Re-sell, repair, re-use, re-invent, re-purpose.
Re-sell garments of great condition on Ebay, Gumtree, FB groups, consignment boutiques and markets. Use YouTube or an alterations specialist to fix broken zips, ripped seams, mend tears, darn holes. Extend the life of your favourite clothes. Alter them to fit and function.
3/ If you wouldn’t give it to your mate, do not donate.
Donate only your best quality pre-loved clothing to charity and community organisations. Please don’t relinquish responsibility of your fast fashion choices to them. If you choose to buy poor quality clothing, you need to deal with it properly - not pass it on to a charity store that ends up having to pay to dump them anyway. Best approach is not to buy it in the first place!
4/ Recycle your textiles.
When your clothes have come to the end of their lives, choose upcycling or recycling instead of landfill. Drop off unstained garments to a SCR Group clothing hub, send worn out garments to TerraCycle, drop off at H&M and Zara stores, odd and lost socks to Manrags.
5/ The most impactful decision you can make is at the point of purchase.
Curb compulsive shopping. Before every clothing purchase decision, ask yourself - who made these clothes made? what is the quality of construction and material? Will I wear it more than 30 times? Does it work with the rest of my clothes?
Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.
6/ Materials matter.
More than 60% of clothing worldwide is made from synthetic fibres – like polyester, nylon, acrylic, acetate. They're created from petrochemicals, don't break down and shed microfibres when we launder them, ending up in our waterways, oceans and bodies. Choose clothing made from natural fibre fabrics as much as you can.
7/ Calculate the cost per wear.
A poor quality $20 garment that becomes misshapen and unwearable after 2 wears and washes actually costs you $10 per wear. Ouch! Your investment in a $150 well-made, well-designed, ethically-produced garment in quality natural fibre fabrics that ages well (gets softer and better over time but will not outlive civilisation), that you love and care for over many years, will cost you less than $1 per wear because you’ve worn it over 150 times over the past 5 years and it’s still going strong.
Invest in your clothing and the people who made them.
8/ Support local.
When you buy from local businesses, it has a powerful knock-on effect for your community and local economy. Shop from independent brands that align with your values. Support responsible brands that manufacture clothing in Australia, that have created their own second-hand marketplace, take-back program or circular economy.
9/ Explore pre-loved and clothing rental.
Rent a garment, especially for special occasions. Include second-hand clothing in your closet mix, get together with your friends for a clothes swap - extend the lifecycle of existing clothing.
10/ Engage, be curious.
Ask questions. Become infomed. Sign up to newsletters, subscribe to podcasts. Attend events. Discover designers like us and initiatives like Fashion Revolution Week to learn, explore and be inspired.
The best and most impactful decision you can make is at the point of purchase.
What’s the point in buying poor quality clothing anyway? Your decisions and dollars count. Save your pennies - you’re wasting money and resources, harming people and planet, when you buy fast fashion.