This year, for Slow Fashion October, I’m not buying any new clothes. If my two-month stint with a capsule wardrobe taught me anything, it was that I have more than enough clothes.
And, I’m not really planning on making any clothes either. If I do make a garment, it will actually be to revisit an unfinished sweater that’s been in hibernation for more than six months.
One of the hardest things for me to realize is that I don’t really like clothes - at least not right now. I love textiles. I love working with my hands to make textiles. But when it comes to fashion, lately I’ve struggled to get excited.
There are lots of reasons why I don’t get pumped up about fashion. For one thing, there’s the fatigue of fashion seasons changing faster and faster than ever before. But my tastes and what fits my body change at a much slower pace.
There’s a host of side effects associated with fast fashion, too. Clothes aren’t made to last anymore. I walked into a discount clothing store the other day, and the clothes looked like they’d skipped being new and were already on the racks of a thrift store – a few gems, but most already sad and worn-out looking. Garment construction is shoddy, not because of a lack of skill of the people who make them, but because the lack of time and resources made available to them in their work.
Speaking of garment workers, there often forced to work in unsafe conditions, and for less than a living wage. All so wealthy people can buy cheap clothes though never wear. And, even those of us who don’t count ourselves as wealthy have far more resources than most of the people who make our clothing.
Then there’s the environmental impact of all those clothes. The resources it takes to make the fabrics, to dye them, and transport them around the world are mind-boggling. Again, so people can wear a garment just a few times before trends change.
The whole industry seems to have escalated in the past few years, an arms race where everyone competes to do it faster and cheaper and make more profit. Except no one is winning this race. Everyone loses, from the people who make the clothes, to the companies selling them, to the consumers, to the people left to deal with the waste when the consumers throw away the clothes.
It’s been talked about before, but it bears repeating – Slow Fashion October isn’t about beating ourselves up over our past choices, or about making people feel bad about the clothes they purchase. It’s about mindfulness. It’s something I struggle with immensely, as I have a tendency to agonize over many things. The idea that a human being might have suffered for the shirt on my back is a difficult burden to bear.
This year, I’ve realized that my closet has more than enough clothes in it, and that I don’t want to add anything to it just now. I’ve realized that I don’t want the responsibility of caring for more clothes, especially if I’m unsure of their provenance. I’ve realized that instead of getting caught up in a frenzy (which I find very easy to do), it would be better for me to relax about my wardrobe, keep things simple, and really stop to think about what slow fashion means in my life.
I know I’ll enjoy seeing the creative outpouring that is Slow Fashion October. If you haven’t heard about Slow Fashion October, be sure to check it out. A more detailed explanation of the whole shebang can be found here, or you can check out the hashtag #slowfashionoctober on Instagram.