We’ve all heard of fast fashion but what about slow fashion?
It’s an emerging trend that looks to reduce waste through encouraging fewer purchases of clothing, drive greater use of environment-friendly materials, and promote an embracing of ethical sourcing practices.
Slow fashion involves a more pedestrian supply chain hence the name. This ultimately means it will be less fashionable and not exactly on-trend – more ‘classic’ you could say. Herein lies the downside of the phenomenon because the reality is that the fast fashion brands are all about their cutting-edge high-fashion garments. This is what appeals to their core customers.
And this is why a recent report City firm Bernstein comes to the conclusion that slow fashion will not have a rapid and dramatic effect on the clothing industry. The death of fast fashion is certainly not nigh.
But there are aspects of slow fashion that its quicker-paced cousin could, and should, adopt. As consumers move inexorably to being more socially conscious they are becoming more demanding of retailers. They will want to see greater use of ethically sourced materials, and know that factories around the world must adhere to greater regulation around workers’ conditions.
There is also the issue of reducing waste through the recycling of materials, which at present is done to only a tiny degree. Consider that per capita textile waste remained stable between 1960 and 1980 but has more than quadrupled since. And only 15% of this textile waste was recycled in 2013.
This is clearly very disappointing and it will require a quantum leap before there is any meaningful difference made to this level of wastage. This is undoubtedly a sticking point to any changes in fast fashion’s activities because the nature of the industry is that its low pricing is a result of reduced quality raw materials and limited usage of each item before it is discarded. This is a virtuous circle with little virtue.
Despite these issues let’s hope that fast fashion’s major players can make an effort to adopt some of the practices behind slow fashion. Maybe the best we can hope for is to end up with something more like ‘mid-paced fashion’.
Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider
K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.