Slow fashion, 5 simple ways to make a big impact

So a bit of a different post from me today.

I’ve generally not spent much time here talking about slow fashion, but, guys, it’s super interesting.

You guys know me, I’m all over that whole less is more mantra (see evidence here and here)so this was always going to be right up my alley. But even if you’re not interested in slow fashion as a movement, some of the principles are really worth thinking over.

So grab yourself a cup of something nice, get comfy and let’s dive right in.


Slow Fashion: a process

Slow fashion is all about crafting a more considerate wardrobe and being more thoughtful about your choices.

But one thing I’ve definitely learned is that slow fashion a is about a process. There’s no real finish. Which is kinda great if you think about it – making a few simple adjustments that gradually build up over time is super achievable.

You don’t have to jump right in with a 100% vegan, cruelty-free, ethically-made, organic, locally-made, carbon-neutral, narurally-dyed wardrobe.

Unless you want to (but then you would be a show off) 🙂

So, with that in mind I wanted to share with you a few simple ways I’ve been engaging with slow fashion and how they’ve helped me move myself forward towards a better, more mindful wardrobe.

1. Be curious

Easy right? And cheap.

I’ve learned that the key to slow fashion isn’t about having a capsule wardrobe or buying exclusively organic. It’s just about being curious and asking questions. Questions like:

Who made my clothes? Where did the material come from? What countries were involved? Do they have of fair working conditions?

And then just simply asking brands what the answers are. Not in a threatening or holier-than-thou kind of way, but just being curious.

I actually tweeted M&S the other day asking where my shoes were made, and while they didn’t specifically know, they pointed me towards their interactive supply chain map. Which I didn’t know existed and is pretty nifty.

Even if you don’t change your habits, at least it gets you and brands starting to think about the real process behind the clothes we wear.

Could you imagine what would happen if enough people were curious?

2. Start with less

Having the physical and mental space to focus on what you really want to have in your wardrobe is super important. Having less (like a capsule wardrobe) also makes it a heck of a lot easier to assess what you truly need.

I’ve always had a relatively small wardrobe, but when I recently went on a bit of a downsizing mission I asked myself some pretty basic questions:

Does it fit? Does it look good? Does it make me feel/fat/frumpy? Does it work for a number of different activities/events? Do I like wearing it or do I feel guilty for not wearing it?

I have to really credit the wonderful ladies behind Unfancy, Anuschka Rees and Style Bee for inspiring me to learn that a small (but perfectly formed and well-loved) wardrobe is not at all a limitation and can actually be more fun.

Less is more? Sure. But who would have thought you could actually have more fun with less?

3. Value what you have

Another aspect of slow fashion is a caring for what you have. Valuing it to the point where you invest time in upkeep.

It’s crazy how much effort has gone into making even the most basic t-shirt (and if you don’t know, you need to watch this mini documentary series and then come back and tell me what you think). Once you learn that, you realise how import it is to value what you have.

So it’s about mending. And doing tedious tasks like taking out stains and polishing shoes. Which I guess are a bit less tedious once you’ve learned how many human hands have gone into making what you wear.

4. Buy less but well

OK, someone thing I assumed before I started learning more about slow fashion was that you weren’t ever supposed to buy anything, or if you did buy something it would end up being super expensive. Both of which sound a bit tedious/impossible to achieve.

But I was obviously wrong.

Do you really need it (I mean really really need it)? Can you buy it second hand? Can you find an ethical supplier or a regular supplier with more ethical policies?

So it’s amazing how many great ethical brands there are out there. Lots are local, using vegan leather, organic fabrics, or using fair-trade principles. But there are also lots of mainstream brands who have a reputation for following ethical principles – like Seasalt, People Tree, Toms.

And it’s great to see how many mainstream suppliers are starting to think ethical – Asos, H&M, and Zara all have ethical lines – which wasn’t the case 5 years ago.

So let’s support these brands doing well and trying to consider ethical approaches.

5. Talk about it

Because I think everything’s more fun when you talk about it.

I’ve found the slow fashion community to be overwhelmingly supportive and super knowledge. They can direct you to DIY natural dyes, ethical brands, or get into debates about whether vegan leather is better than leather for shoes.

There’s also some great ways to get involved – Fashion Revolution and their ‘Who Made My Clothes’ (#whomademyclothes) campaign is a great place to start.


I could seriously go on all day, but I’ll let you digest that for now 🙂 Let me know if you have your own way of approaching slow fashion, if you have any questions you’d like to see answered, or you have some ethical brands you want to shout out about.

And if you’re wondering how this fits with a me-made wardrobe I’ve got a post coming soon.

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  • Great post Elena! I appreciate the energy behind this whole movement and support it enthusiastically. I have been buying my clothes second hand for about 40 years and making my own for 3. I always carry my own bags in my purse – give away clothes to friends or the thrift stores if I’m not wearing them for whatever reason. We all do what we can but really as you say it’s about consciousness. Asking ourselves and making this the deciding factor, “Do I REALLY need this? and if so is there a way I can bring it to myself as ethically as possible?” It’s actually challenging and fun and the more work you put into acquisition the more you appreciate having it once it’s yours.

  • Yes to all of this! Home-sewing has a good rep for cutting slave labour out of clothing production, but it is still damaging to our environment and can create a lot of waste if we don’t put the care into making things that will be worn and will last. I have been sewing for a few years and have done my fair share of fast-sewing but I am really try to steer away from that now.

    It is hard as there is always a desire to have and try new things. Although I love Instagram, it seems to encourage consumption as it tends to be one-off pictures of finished objects with none of the narrative about process that blogs include. It encourages a culture where sewers churn out garments more frequently than most people shop for clothes! Its always nice to see people re-visiting old makes and discussing styling etc.

    Excessive fabric stashes are not really any different to having a wardrobe full of unworn clothes when you consider the resources that have been used in production. I am currently sewing from my stash and if I ever finish (It’s not even that big but feels never-ending (and random, why did I buy some of that stuff??)!) I hope to only buy as needed and source my toile fabric second-hand. Thanks for continuing the discussion on this, I think it can be hard to talk about as it feels like you’re putting yourself out there for critique; I’m always wary of saying things publicly in case it is held against me later – none of us is perfect! Judgement-free discussion is definitely the way forward.

  • I’m really interested in this because not only have I always wanted to make my own wardrobe (and am starting to) the ethics of buying cheap fast fashion have always bothered me. Do keep writing about this 🙂

  • I’ve been on a similar journey to you Elena and agree it doesn’t need to be huge steps at a time but all the little decisions and actions that eventually add up. An example is recently, for the first time in a long time I purchased a fast fashion made skirt from Revolution and though I did consider the wages the women who made it were paid ect, I also thought to myself, but knowing that I love it- I will wear it for a long time to come and will also upcycle it when the time comes!