What is Slow Fashion?

Find out what slow fashion really is and its implications. Choose to be on the side of ethical and sustainable fashion!


slow fashion

Definition of Slow Fashion

Slow Fashion is a movement that involves few collections, mostly handcrafted. The term was first thought of by author, activist and professor Kate Fletcher. Slow fashion defines fashion based on quality rather than quantity. The movement encourages slower production, inviting consumers to invest in well-made clothes that last.

Slow fashion aims to rethink our relationship with clothes, stimulating sustainable production methods that benefit the planet and all people. In a perfect world, and hopefully one day soon, slow fashion will simply be the norm.

Slow fashion certainly doesn't include industrial productions, although many profess to be such, when in fact they are not at all. Certainly, industrial clothing brands that limit themselves to the two summer and winter collections, are slower than the big Fast Fashion brands, who can produce more than 50 collections in a year.

Usually, the brands that embrace a Slow Fashion philosophy are high quality brands and above all ethical, by virtue of a more meticulous and controlled production.

However, we cannot necessarily consider a Slow Fashion production as sustainable. In fact, a sustainable production is also characterized by the use of ecological textile fibers certified as such. There are many slow fashion brands that continue to use standard fabrics such as leather or classic cotton instead of sustainable materials, such as linen or organic cotton. However, the small number of "garments or accessories" that are created compensate for the lack of use of eco-friendly fabrics and textile certifications.

We hope that in the near future, more and more artisan brands will come to be 100% sustainable. In any case, their ethics and care definitely make them a great choice for consumers, much better than fast fashion. From this point of view, the increase in the use of eco-friendly fibers also among the small Slow Fashion artisans, who are trying to distinguish themselves in a very saturated and fierce fashion industry, is a hopeful sign.

Sustainable brands

Quality clothing made to last

Fast fashion companies create new collections every week and less than one percent of all garments produced are recycled into new garments. Slow fashion flips this model on its head with slower production schedules that have a low impact on our earth. Instead of chasing trends, these brands use enduring styles, creating pieces designed to never go out of style.

This solution encourages customers to build minimalist wardrobes and invest in garments they can keep for a lifetime. In addition to caring for the planet through thoughtful, low-impact design, slow fashion brands produce clothing in-house or locally, allowing full control over the supply chain process and working conditions. They are in no rush to create items to please the masses. This interpretation of fashion infuses value into every seam, lining and fold of a lovingly crafted garment.

Slow Fashion vs Fast Fashion

To date, Slow Fashion is still a niche reality. Yet we are convinced that human consciousness, combined with the need to move towards a more sustainable era, could soon be the levers that will boost sales of Slow Fashion products. If we are more careful about what we consume in terms of food, why shouldn't we be more careful with fashion, which is the second most polluting industry in the world?

Today, unfortunately, there is no history, fast fashion is the master: it plays and wins in all markets of the world, except in underdeveloped countries where the big brands have no interest in entering. While Slow Fashion is struggling in a world that is still not ready enough to appreciate it as it should. The trend is obviously to have more and more collections and variety, even if we start to notice some steps backwards, towards a more conscious and human-sized fashion. We admit that we would like this new way of seeing the world, and consequently also our priorities in terms of fashion.

However, we are realistic and we know that it will take some time before things change drastically. But if, step by step, it succeeds in conquering even a small slice of the market, we will be very happy. And the environment would also benefit.

Fast Fashion is destructive not only on an environmental level, but also on a social level
. Most of the low cost garments we buy come from unstable situations that are exploited by the big fashion houses. The garments we buy are often created by hands too young to work, made in fragile, discriminating, undignified situations.Fashion, besides being the second most polluting industry on our planet, is also one of the industries that most exploits workers, especially in the developing countries. 

Artisan and tailoring workshops are a valid alternative to the big low cost fashion chains. Opting for small local productions allows both to reduce environmental pollution and to improve the living conditions of millions of workers exploited by the textile industry.

Sustainable fashion

Join the Slow Fashion movement 

Participating and being one of the slow fashion advocates is pretty simple: anyone can join the movement, you don't even need to buy new clothes! Here are a few ways to get involved:

Create a love story. Browse through your closet and think of stories about your favorite garments. Think of funny episodes like that tomato stain on your first date or your dad's sweater you snuck him. Put life back into your closet! If you want to create your own brand, source from sustainable clothing manufacturing company.

Build a wardrobe of clothes you actually use. Keep only those clothes you really wear every day, garments that make sense for your lifestyle. Select only a few items that really matter to you. Your clothes should be as practical as they are stylish.

Make thoughtful purchases. Start by giving up the temptation to buy on impulse. Consult your current wardrobe before buying a new item and make sure it works with the clothes you already own. Before you buy something new think it through and consider if it's really necessary.

Do your research.
When you find a new slow fashion brand, take some time to check out the company and do your research, making sure you spend your dollars wisely. Take a look at the brand's website and try to look for manufacturing information. Usually, when nothing is listed, it's not a good sign. Choose the local based brands that produce in small batches and pursue sustainable practices. 

Is it slow, sustainable and ethical for everyone involved? Does the brand disclose how and where the clothes are made? How many collections per year does the brand produce? 

Being able to answer these types of questions will give you a better understanding of whether or not a company practices what it preaches. When in doubt, you can email the brand or reach out on social channels!

How to check if a brand is Slow Fashion 

For slow fashion to become important again, we need to make sure that the brands we support are really part of it. Change always comes from us, the consumers, who have to ask for stricter rules and controls, otherwise there is no reason for brands to change. The questions we always ask before adding a brand on Ad Hoc Atelier are listed below. They help us a lot to really understand how a brand produces and therefore we propose them to you: you could also use them to check if you are buying from a company that shares your values.

1. How do you pack and ship your garments?
2. Does your brand give back or support social initiatives?
3. Where do you get your textile materials from?
4. Could you provide a transparent breakdown of your supply chain?
5. Do you have a third party to conduct regular audits of your factories?

Slow Fashion in Italy

Italian craftsmanship is an integral part of Slow Fashion. Although in recent years, due to the economic crisis, the craft stores of all sectors are less and less visible, especially online where fast fashion reigns and competition is very strong. We know that our country is living a period of great economic difficulty, and it is difficult to think that Slow Fashion can gain an important slice of the global fashion market. In fact, often this kind of products have a higher price because they are made by a man instead of a machine.

Who can afford custom-made clothes? Who can buy a handmade bag? We are great supporters of Slow Fashion and more generally of true Made in Italy, we are also aware that buying these products has a higher than normal cost.

Just the fact that they are made in Italy alone makes them more expensive. In addition, in the last 10 years, the large distribution chains of Fast Fashion have educated us to buy products at low cost, and it has become a habit for us to buy a T-shirt for less than € 10. The prices of handmade products are higher, but the price is not the only problem in question. We are so used to buying "junk garments" that we can no longer do without them, it's part of ourselves. We are used to having dozens of outfits in our closets, even though we normally wear far fewer items than we imagined before we bought them.

How many clothes did our grandparents have? And how many did our parents? Obviously provocative question, lifestyles have changed, but the answer gives an idea of the real dimensions of the problem. If we all decided to give up some of these oufits and clothes that we buy every day, focusing on quality clothes produced by Slow Fashion we could at least help the local economy, the development of the national economy and have an eye for our planet, victim of over-production.

It's important to remember how much even just the actions of an individual can have a big impact. In our small way, we at Ad Hoc Atelier strive to give visibility to the best of the Made in Italy craft realities that have very little space today. The Made in Italy is poorly protected, often produced in other countries and falsified in a hasty way. Our mission is to relaunch it, giving Made in Italy the space it deserves! We hope that the future of Made in Italy will be positive and full of surprises, we push for this to happen!

Discover Do-It-Yourself!

Is DIY part of Slow Fashion? Obviously yes, as well as the recycling of old clothes no longer used and the purchase of vintage clothes in flea markets. Upcycle is also slow fashion: we take clothes we no longer use, rearrange them as we like, and here we have created a new dress ready for a new life. By now there are more and more realities that rely on upcycling, amateur and professional realities, in what is a real new fashion 100% sustainable.

Our advice is to start with garments that really don't interest us, so we can try them out, and then move on to clothes with more potential once we've practiced. With time, maybe you'll be able to create collections you can wear out of the house, too. We throw away dozens of garments every year, so DIY and creative recycling is definitely a great way to actively participate in the Slow Fashion movement.

Slow Fashion online

Dozens of brands declare themselves to be Slow Fashion, even if they don't make a strictly handmade product. Today there are less stringent parameters and therefore there are many industrial brands that take advantage of this.

There are brands that declare themselves as belonging to slow fashion for convenience, because they produce only two collections a year. So they are slow if compared to fast fashion brands that create fifty collections. However, it should always be verified how these brands produce, if they guarantee optimal conditions for workers and if they do not practice extremely polluting methods.

In fact, it is possible to find many Slow Fashion brands online, at least in appearance. By Slow Fashion we mean handmade products, certainly with the help of machinery, but not mass produced at industrial level. We have created for you a selection of the best slow fashion brands made in Italy. Every week we meet dozens of brands, which we check carefully, to be sure to have on our platform only realities that truly represent the Made in Italy and slow fashion. We want to have only the best of Made in Italy.

We hope with this guide to have helped you understand what slow fashion means, and what are the fundamental characteristics of the brands that belong to this movement. If you want to discover the best brands of slow fashion made in Italy click here.

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