Even though this seems to primarily be happening on Instagram, this is something I am really passionate about so I thought I’d join in. Slow Fashion October is being hosted by Karen Templer at Fringe Association and this is the manifesto:
A celebration of the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe.
Yes! Yes to all, even the parts I don’t have a good hold on yet.
The theme for Week 1 is Introductions.
Who are you, and what does slow fashion mean to you. What got you started thinking about it — people, books, films, etc. Are your concerns environmental, humanitarian, financial? Most important: How does your thinking factor into your life and closet. Also, any special plans or projects for Slotober, and what are you hoping to get out of it?
I am a hobby sewer. I learned to sew at about aged 7. My mother made most of our clothes growing up and some very memorable clothes for my barbie doll as well. One Christmas she made me versions of a number of Princess Diana’s evening gowns and some knitted jerseys for Barbie. The actual best.
I have always had a very strong sense of personal style. I’ve never wanted to look like everyone else. In high school I boycotted mufti days in the last two years, because all the girls in my year came dressed identically and I didn’t want to play that game. So what I wear and how I look have always been something I have considered.
From early in my teens I was constructing my own look with a collection of self-made and second-hand items.
I think my first real connection with slow anything would have come by way of Trade Aid, a shop in New Zealand that partners with small manufactures in developing countries to import their goods. There is a strong emphasis on Fair Trade and ‘known origins’. This shop was the favorite shopping place of myself and my sisters from around 11 0r 12 years of age. Because Trade Aid is run more like a co-operative, prices were not exorbitant and many of our friends were gifted such adorable delights as ‘Worry Dolls’ for presents throughout our high school years.
In my late 20s Trade Aid started stocking ‘No Sweat’ Sneakers, high-top style sneakers that had been made outside of sweat shops. I think I knew about sweat shops before this, but not in a very conscious way.
I also shopped second hand for most of my clothes at this point. Although the remainder of my clothes were purchased at the cheapest possible stores. Stores where I could probably guarantee the accountability for supply lines is low to non-existent. The odd bit of sewing I did at this point was with the fabric from the bargain tables.
Somewhere in my mid 30s I made a decision to try not to buy clothes made in China, when the shop-keepers couldn’t tell me about the working conditions of their manufacture. And somewhere after that I started to try and actively support clothing manufactures still working out of New Zealand. Definitely a higher price tag, so a ‘less is more’ approach.
My motivations are primarily humanitarian and then environmental. I don’t want to support manufacture processes where humans and the environment are mistreated. And now there seems to be more information in the media regarding Fair Trade / Ethical fashion and more shop keepers are able to have a conversation about it. I read a lot on-line and where possible try to share information with others via social media and other platforms.
Now (age 40) I very rarely buy new clothes. This year – as far as I can remember – these are the only garments I have purchased new:
- Underpants – from Thunderpants – locally made from organic cotton.
- A dress and a leather jacket from a local label Black Eye Peach. I love their aesthetic, love to support emerging designers, and they manufacture in New Zealand and Bali with highly traceable supply lines for their Bali leatherwork which is completed by a small family business.
- Bras from Berlei – not traceable for the supply line which saddens me. I have worn these bras for about 15 years now, but the quality is noticeably poorer over time. Bras are a huge problem for me. I don’t think making them is the solution as it still involves a lot of materials that I am not certain I can trace the manufacture of, and all locally manufactured or ethical underwear seems to fit in the ‘lingerie’ category, rather than the underwear group.
- Some socks and hosiery – all New Zealand made.
- One pair of boots, made in China. I asked the company for their supply stats. They weren’t helpful. Shoes are hard too.
- I have also purchased about 8 lots of new fabric.
I try and purchase mostly fabric second-hand and a quick scan of my blog over this year shows a 2:1 ratio for second hand to new fabric. I’d like that to be higher in favour of second hand TBH and my second-hand fabric purchasing has recently changed to include more plain colours so that I can facilitate that. I also have a lot of second-hand patterns and don’t tend to buy many patterns in any given year. Perhaps 5 this year. I am always on the look out for second hand notions such as zips and elastic and I have an extensive collection of second hand buttons and thread.
What I’m thinking about for Slotober is how my wardrobe functions in terms of size and the constant introduction of ‘new’ me made garments. In the past I’ve been a virtuous recycler of clothes via charity bins, it was an easy way to have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach. And then I read this article: No one wants your old clothes.
So recently I’ve decided I want to shop my own wardrobe more and perhaps store things for a season or two when they are feeling over-familiar or over-worn. So while I will make a couple of items during the month, I am trying to think about how to get my ‘creating’ kick without constantly adding to my wardrobe, because really how many clothes does one woman actually need and wear?