Elizabeth Street

Slow Fashion October: A Few Thoughts

Creative InspirationLiz TubmanComment

There were so many interesting conversations, links, and thoughts floating around the web last month for Slow Fashion October. After letting everything sink in a bit, there are a few ideas and thoughts that have stuck with me.  Even though it's now almost the end of November, I still wanted to share them here.  After all, slow fashion is always in season, right?

  • Small decisions have impact

Where I decide to buy a t-shirt doesn't seem like a decision that would have much impact in a huge, worldwide industry like clothing + fashion.  It's just a tiny drop in the bucket; it doesn't really matter, right?  Wrong, I'd argue.  If I decided to buy that t-shirt from  a small, independent company or even sew it myself, that decision has a direct impact on that company that I support (or buy my fabric from!).   It may feel like those small decisions don't matter in the big picture of things, but each small decision we make adds up.  All the little choices we make create the life we live, and those choices impact the people and world around us.  So let's make them count!  The biggest shopping season of the year is coming up, and instead of going crazy on Black Friday I love supporting Small Business Saturday!  It's the perfect opportunity to use your decision making power to make a positive impact in your own world.

  • Handmade as a 21st century status symbol

Bristol Ivy, a knitwear designer that I admire,  first made this point on her Instagram feed last month.  The whole idea of "handmade" and "slow fashion" has a certain level of privilege and means attached to it.  The fact that I can afford to  buy the materials and have the time to make my own clothing (not to mention the skill level of sewing and knitting)  is significant.  (I do however, make very conscious choices about my materials for each project so that I stay within my budget.)  Wearing and creating handmade has become a kind of status symbol, especially in the recent upsurge in popularity of crafting + making. 

I had a recent conversation about sewing with my mom where she mentioned that she grew up feeling the opposite.  My mom was raised in rural Montana and learned to sew and make her own clothes because ready made clothing wasn't available or affordable.  When she got older and moved out of Montana, being able to buy her clothing was a big step up.  To her,  that ready made clothing  became a sort of status symbol.  Now, she sews for the joy of it rather than out of necessity.  My mom also doesn't sew a lot of clothing anymore either; she loves quilting and sewing soft sculpture pieces.   I thought this was a really interesting observation compared with my own experience.  What was a necessity for my mom became a  status symbol for me. 

  • Slow fashion has changed the way I shop

Since I started making my own clothing, I haven't done much shopping.  And guess what? I haven't missed it one bit!  Not only have I shopped less, but I've been shopping smarter.  If I knew I needed something specific I scouted out prices online first and wasn't so quick to buy the first thing I came across.  I didn't need that instant gratification so much anymore.  I was used to slow fashion being a process from the experience of spending weeks or even months making a piece of clothing. 

I've also found myself looking at ready made clothing differently.  I stopped in a store last week with a friend of mine who wanted to pick up something that was on sale.  As we walked around, I found myself looking at the clothes there with a completely different mindset.  Sure, there were some really cute things that a year ago I would have wanted to buy right then and there.  But this time, whenever something caught my eye, a pattern came to mind almost immediately that would let me recreate the item with my own two hands.  This was seriously empowering.  Not only did I know that I could probably do just as good a job (if not better) making that same piece of clothing, but I didn't feel like I needed to buy anything.  That sense of needing some sort of materialistic instant gratification wasn't there.  I felt like I was in control of what I wanted and in control of my wallet!   Sure, there are times when I decide to shell out the $20 for a pair of leggings or whatever but it's a choice I get to make. 

Thanks for indulging this long, rambly post.  You can still check out the #slowfashion & #slowfashionoctober tags on Instagram for some great posts if you want more inspiration and food for thought!