Reason to care: Most fashion is produced in a fast fashion system which has a huge impact on planetary and social systems. The fast fashion industry is driven by overproduction and overconsumption. The true costs are shouldered by garment workers who work in precarious conditions and are unable to break out of cycles of poverty, communities with polluted waterways and mounds of clothing from waste colonialism, and all the natural life sources that are harmed by fashion’s environmental impact.
This is why we choose to embrace slow fashion. Kate Fletcher, in her paper titled ‘Slow Fashion: An Invitation for Systems Change’, describes slow fashion as “a different worldview that names a coherent set of fashion activities that promote a variety and multiplicity of fashion production and consumption and that celebrates the pleasure and cultural significance of fashion within biophysical limits.”
Small actions with big impacts:
- Keep your clothes for longer. Participating in fast fashion – buying cheaper clothes more regularly – leads to many clothes being thrown away within a year. Inevitably, this puts pressure on resources, pollutes the environment, creates waste and increases global carbon emissions. By using and keeping your clothing for longer, your use increases and your clothing purchases decrease, which reduces your carbon footprint whilst saving money in the long run.
- Organise a swap with friends or participate in a local swap where you can update your wardrobe, and satisfy your desire for novelty, without buying anything new! If you are in Cape Town, check out Twyg’s monthly swap at Nude Foods, or head over to Clothing Swap Cape Town. If you are in Johannesburg, keep an eye out for Swyft Lab’s next swap event.
- Give rental a go. If you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, but want to resist the urge to impulse buy, why not try rental? The rental revolution is picking up in South Africa, and you can browse 4 South African rental services here.
- Shop secondhand. Choosing preloved not only allows you to curate a unique look, it also means that you are extending the lifespan of clothing that already exists and saving it from becoming waste. Read more about the pros of shopping second-hand here.
- Learn to sustainably care for your clothes. You know how the saying goes, “The most sustainable garment is the one you already own.” So, we all need to learn how to care for our clothes and make them last. Here is a guide on where to begin.
- Learn how to avoid greenwashing. As there is a growing consciousness about the ills of the fashion industry, there is also a growing number of brands using greenwashing to try to falsely convince us of their sustainability efforts. Here are a few tips on how to avoid greenwashing and support brands with earnest intentions.
- Buy fewer, better things – preferably from local businesses. Supporting local is one of the ways we can begin to “collectively reimagine a just and equitable fashion system for people and the planet,” as per Fashion Revolution’s mission. Here is a list of 6 South African retail spaces that stock local brands.
To learn more, begin here:
- Why we should adopt a wellbeing wardrobe
- Part 1: Preferred South African animal fibre textiles
- Part 2: Preferred South African plant fibre textiles
- Why the farm-to-fibre movement is the future of fashion
- Follow the fashion trend and learn to eco-dye your clothing
- Repair what you wear
- What’s the stitch? Why you need to learn how to fix and darn clothes
- What’s the stitch? How to shop, buy, and wear to last
- Long read: Why you should join the Fashion Revolution
- Become a fashion activist
If you are looking for more ideas and inspiration, look here:
- Calculate your fashion footprint with ThredUP’s fashion footprint calculator.
- Organisations advocating for change: Fashion Revolution, Sustainable Fashion Forum, Remake, The OR Foundation, Clean Clothes Campaign, Ethical Fashion Initiative