In 1986, an Italian journalist became outraged when a McDonald's franchise was opening adjacent to the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spanga. Carlo Petrini rallied friends and the community to take a stand against the global industrialization of food and homogenized eating. Three years later the Slow Food movement was born. The Slow Food movement promotes taking pleasure in the process of cooking, eating and sharing meals with others. The movement has over 150,000 members with national associations in Italy, US, Germany and Japan.
In the same way that the Slow Food Movement rallied against the globalization of food, the Slow Fashion Movement is a reaction against the globalized, mass production of clothing which results in fashion making it to the retail store in a matter of weeks while being sold at very low prices. As a result, consumers are encouraged to purchase more than they need. This over consumption impacts the environment in a negative way and exploits the factory workers. The impact on the environment results in depletion of fossil fuels, fewer fresh water reserves, and increasing use of pesticides and man made fibers. All of which, damages ecosystems and other natural resources and contributing to climate change.
Slow Fashion was first coined by Kate Fletcher from the Center for Sustainable Fashion when fashion was compared to the Slow food movement. There are similarities in that the Slow Fashion movement encourages "taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment," representing all things "eco, ethical, and green."
Elizabeth Cline in her book, Overdressed The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion, writes of her personal experience in realizing the impact of over consumption in her life and in the world. She wrote the book after a shopping spree made her realize she had too many clothes. Buying more cheap clothing has a worldwide ripple effect, she says. "It leave a huge carbon footprint and supports unfair wages and working conditions for overseas workers." In the United States the effect has been the loss of jobs to cheaper factory production overseas. Two decades ago, Cline says American factories were making half the clothing purchased in the US. Today, almost all fashion clothing is made in other countries from cheap materials producing poor quality garments. "It's about being selective", says Cline, "we need to change the way we view our clothes, and try to think of the whole life cycle of things. Slow Fashion means buying less, caring for what you own so that it doesn't end up in a landfill."
So, what can you do to slow down the frantic consumption of clothing? Here are some tips:
1. Education yourself about the life cycle of clothes. What is the source of the materials? Where was it made?
2. Buy fewer clothes. To prolong the life of clothes you have, take care of them.
3. Alter clothing you have if necessary, "upcycle" items to fit you needs.
4. Shop thrift, consignment and vintage stores.
5. When shopping ask yourself if you will really wear the item. Avoid buying single piece items, you'll never wear.