The Slow Fashion Movement is reshaping consumerism
The fashion industry is built on big brands getting items from the runway to the store as quickly as possible. But today’s conscious consumer is challenging this model.
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Consumers are more interested in knowing: Where are their garments are coming from? How was it manufactured? Where is the fabric sourced from? Who made it? With this environmentally and socially focused mindset comes “The Slow Fashion Movement”.
Slow fashion, a term coined by fashion consultant Kate Fletcher, is about more than buying organic cotton t-shirts. “It’s about the consumer becoming aware of the whole process–from design through production through use and through the potential to reuse,” Hazel Clark, research chair of fashion at Parsons said. Slow fashion addresses the whole cycle and presents an alternative to mass consumerism for fashionistas – purchase a small number of sustainably made, high quality items, as opposed to having 20 different versions of the same mass produced skirt hanging in your closet.
The movement is gaining traction thanks in part to minimalist groups and ethically conscious curation sites. Sites like Not Just A Label and Modavanti make it easy for consumers to find brands and designers with sustainable production practices. Conscious Commerce, founded by actress Olivia Wilde, curates consciously made products and even helps facilitate collaborations between brands and locally run organizations to bring their users limited edition items.
Another force fuelling the movement is growing reports of factory working conditions, including the explosion in Bangladesh last year. North American consumers are becoming more aware of the terrible conditions our clothes are being made in, and the incredible risks the factory workers are put in every day. The incident in Bangladesh brought the situation to light, and many Fast Fashion brands took note. H&M, Gap and Zara have all signed a pledge to improve factory conditions and Forever 21 has a vendor compliance and ethical sourcing program that includes factory visits. Fashion retailers are now moving towards more sustainable practices, which are looking to increase their productivity while minimizing environmental damages and having a more conscious manufacturing stream.
The slow fashion movement will have a major impact on the industry. Consumerism will slow down in the next five to ten years. People will start buying items that really matter to them at a premium price. This is the opportunity for small businesses to stand out in a market where craftsmanship will shine over mass production.
So how can your business adapt?
- Focus on the higher quality of your products
- Focus on social consciousness
- Focus on the benefits of buying from your brand
- Focus on your community
Overall, focus on what you do best as a small business and be as bold as you can be. The global audience will feel refreshed by your sincerity.