If you are a fashionista at heart, or at the very least, you regularly follow current and emerging fashion trends at home and abroad, then, you’re probably quite au courant about industry terms and expressions such as ‘high fashion’, ‘in vogue’, ‘vintage fashion’ and ‘cutting fashion’. However, have you ever heard of the phrase ‘slow fashion’? Well, neither did I until a couple weeks prior. Truly, you live and learn with each new day!
So, what is ‘slow fashion’? It’s actually a very pro-environment way of engaging and treating with the fashion industry. Simply put, it is the growing movement within the fashion industry and related sectors that challenges the high turnover (read: fast and cheap) rate at which clothes are produced and subsequently disposed of, that threatens the sustainability of the environment (including plants, trees and animals), as well as the lives and livelihoods of fashion industry workers.
Think about it, when clothes are commercially made, they are produced in massive numbers- whether by the ton-load, crane-load or storage container-load. Usually, such clothing is made from materials or fabrics that are commonplace or otherwise readily accessible, such as cotton, polyester, linen, wool and their corresponding blends.
They are often cut, stitched and sewn by workers who labour for extensive periods, and are either paid a very basic salary (or even underpaid) in some cases. The clothes are shipped from the manufacturer or wholesaler’s operational base to retailers across the globe, or throughout the country where they were first made. All seems well in the wonderful world of business.
However, when those clothes purportedly ‘outlive’ their viable shelf life, not all of them are put into storage or sold at peppercorn prices. Instead, they are unceremoniously dumped--and thereby contribute to the growing global carbon footprint, especially when they are disposed of in areas where fragile ecosystems exist, or, are at the risk of being threatened. And guess what? Banks and other commercial financial institutions in the global village are starting to respond accordingly.
Nowadays, the present school of thought is that these aforementioned institutions, as well as individual financial investors, are unwilling or reluctant at best, to invest in any fashion-geared organisation or individual who neglects to implement robust ESG measures (i.e., Environmental, Social and Governance). Also, such entities and individuals are generally hesitant about putting their money or reputation on the line where the actions of potential clients have or are likely to have adverse social and environmental impacts. Who wants bad publicity, especially in an era of social media?
If there are any present entities or persons in the Caribbean fashion industry who are leading the charge for products and services to be curated in such a way as to elevate the status of slow fashion, do forgive me, but I have neither seen nor heard of them just yet. Nevertheless, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t around!
We should all advocate for the greater presence of slow fashion in our region. Especially as the Caribbean region, what with its many low-lying coastal areas and persons who have a single form of livelihood based on what they can obtain from the land or the sea and are therefore vulnerable to the effects of climate change, it makes practical sense to promote this paradigmatic way of thinking and doing business. In other words, fashion can still be fabulous and be at loggerheads with the environment.
Sustainable fashion is fabulous fashion. Spread the word!
LinkedIn Local Caribbean, slow fashion, trend, ESG, financial investors