Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. The same three words we’ve heard knocking about since the beginning of time. We all know cutting down on our meat consumption is the way forward, filtering that little bit of chicken nugget-disguised Quorn into our everyday meals to make it seem like less of a drastic lifestyle change. We all know the detrimental effects of using a plastic carrier bag for a pint of milk and some apples and then chucking it in the bin, whereas carrying our bright orange Bags for Life into the supermarket feels like we are doing our bit to save the burning planet, or rather, it’s the 10p plastic bag fee that fuels this healthy habit! We all know glass goes in the black box; cardboard, plastic, paper, tins in the blue bin; and food waste in the caddy. Much like an army regiment, we routinely file our unwanted rubbish into their designated compartments.
But now, a new kid is on the block.
Slow fashion. As its name suggests, it revolves around the notion of fast fashion - buying and throwing away clothing that has been made and sold cheaply - but switches it into a more positive initiative.
Slow fashion can be embraced in a variety of different ways. To ease you into it, you may choose to give your local charity shops a visit. Whilst mooching round the Air Ambulance shop in town may smell vaguely like your grandma’s wardrobe, do not be put off, as I can assure you there are some real gems to be found in these wonder emporiums. Then, as you exit the shop, ecstatic and joyful with your £3 Bon Marche satin shirt (a particular favourite purchase of mine), you are hit with the greatest feeling of all - pride. You can give yourself a big pat on the back, for simultaneously saving the planet AND donating money to a worthy charity - go you! The only downside: when your 85-year-old grandma proclaims that she’d ‘quite fancy borrowing that blouse sometime’, you just have to smile and wave, content with the knowledge that, although you may look like an OAP, at least you’re a cool, environmentally friendly one.
Other ways of going about it can prove far riskier. This method may be best left to when you’re home alone, just in case. Making sure to look left and right before you depart from the safety of your bedroom, dash quickly into the danger zone. You have arrived. Throw open the great wooden doors and peek inside, assessing the situation before you. six plaid shirts, two pairs of oversized jeans and a flat cap, just as you suspected. You should grab them quick, before they arrive back. Rush back to the safety of your room. Mission complete. In all seriousness, if you couldn’t tell what I was describing there, raiding your parents’ wardrobes is a great way to be sustainable.
Although all the high street shops lead you to believe the latest fashion trends are being created right now, this is actually a lie. Those knitted sweater vests that are on the front page of every fashion magazine? They first became popular in the 1930s, before my grandma was even born, and remained a staple well into the 1980s, so chances are you’ll find one of those in your parents’ wardrobe, and you don’t even have to go anywhere for it ... apart from jeopardising your life by completing the trickiest stunt of all time, obviously!
Slow fashion also values fair treatment for the workers who manufacture your clothes. Whilst an online order a day does seem to keep the sadness away, it doesn’t do any good for the labourers working tirelessly at machines. Behind some of the major, most well-known clothing giants of the 21st century, lurks a dark truth. Last year during the pandemic, reports claimed that some employees of the major brands were being paid a shocking £3.50 an hour whilst working in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and something tells me this wasn’t just the case during Covid times.
Buying from more ethical companies doesn’t have to be challenging. Just a short walk into the town centre and you will find H&M, which offers an impressive Conscious Products collection, including all your staples such as jeans, jackets, and t-shirts. Venture into Sheffield and Urban Outfitters offer a Vintage & Renewal range, preowned and repurposed clothing sitting alongside new products. Chesterfield can also boast Gorilla Garms, a vintage and branded clothing business on Vicar Lane.
What I’m really trying to convey is, slow fashion doesn’t equate to outdated, uncool clothes, and they most certainly aren’t difficult to source. Simply being aware of the slow fashion movement is the first step, so there you go, I’ve helped you with that.
Now, pay a visit to Oxfam, pick out a second-hand M&S jumper, a pair of navy-blue chinos originally from Gap and you’ll be the coolest, most sustainable, cat in Chesterfield!
Words: Maisie Cook Images: Adobe Stock