Slow Fashion - Your guide to making your wardrobe sustainable

Many of us intuitively know that a big part of the fashion industry is broken. We realize that prices in Fast Fashion stores are too good to be true and that these clothes fall apart again in no time. But it's difficult to know how broken things really are when all we see of the production chain is a nicely ironed T-Shirt in a well-temperatured store.

To understand what Slow Fashion is and why it matters so much, we must first look at the harsh reality of its opposite, the Fast Fashion world:

  • 92 million tons of fashion get thrown away each and every year
  • The fashion industry emits 10% of global greenhouse gases
  • It takes 2,700 liters of water to produce one non-organic cotton shirt
  • The average fashion worker in Bangladesh (the world's second largest fashion producer) earns only 2-3 $ a day
  • Pesticides and chemicals used in fast fashion production pollute the earth for decades to come
Slow Fashion Chart Orbasics

The Answer: Slow Fashion

Simply put, Slow Fashion is the countermovement to the Fast Fashion industry. It is the antidote to using low-quality materials and cheap labor to bring out a never-ending stream of cheap new clothes at a rapid pace. At its essence, Slow Fashion stands for a choice to be more considerate in the way we buy our clothes - that means carefully choosing better-quality clothing and buying fashion less often.

Slow Fashion

The term “Slow Fashion” was coined by the designer Kate Fletcher in 2008, who was inspired by the Slow Food and Slow Living movements where people are more conscious about what they eat and how they live. Slow Fashion brings this movement to the clothing industry. While “ethical”, “sustainable” and “organic” is more a description of how our clothes are made, the idea of Slow Fashion encompasses both producers and customers, who must work hand-in-hand to bring more quality and transparency to the fashion industry.

Even though Slow Fashion is a relatively young phenomenon, it is becoming a global movement with more and more brands choosing transparency and sustainability. It is still small compared to the giant fast fashion industry, but it's strong enough to make a difference!


What are the Characteristics of Slow Fashion?

  • Qualitative - Slow Fashion stands for higher-quality and long-lasting clothes that you can happily wear for many washes.
  • Aware - Slow Fashion is not just about the clothes themselves, but stands for a bigger movement where we pay more attention to how we buy clothes and how we treat our planet.
  • Sustainable - Slow Fashion means producing clothes organically, without any toxic materials and straining our planet's resources as little as possible. 
  • Caring - Slow Fashion is kind to the people who produce it. That means: no child labour, safe and healthy working conditions and fair wages.
  • Natural - The Fast Fashion industry hasn ́t been around forever. Before that, we cared much more about long-lasting and handmade clothes, so Slow Fashion means going back to more natural ways.
  • Economical - If we buy smart and carefully, Slow Fashion actually allows us to save money. 

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How do I Switch to Slow Fashion?

Here are the best things you can do to slow down your fashion consumption and make a meaningful difference:

  • Buy Quality over Quantity - Go for pieces where you know they will last longer, keep their shape and not lose colour. 
  • Look under the Hood - Be curious about the clothes you buy. We don't have to become experts, but with a little bit of interest we can much better understand how our clothes are made.
  • Need vs. Want - Shop with intention and make a difference between clothes you need and clothes you want. If you are not sure that you will wear something often, consider holding off the purchase.
  • Build a timeless wardrobe - Choose items that won't go out of style after a few months and instead, build a wardrobe of timeless classics. That means: more basics and less pieces that don't stand the test of time. 
  • Recycle and Repurpose - Get creative with the clothes you already own. Turn long pants into shorts, learn how to stitch or turn your t-shirts into workout shirts.
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    How Can I Know that a Brand is Sustainable?

    In the big fashion jungle, it's easy to get lost and difficult to know what brands are really sustainable and what not. Thankfully, there are official fashion certifications that bring transparency into this jungle.

    The most important one is GOTS. It covers the entire production process from the making of the fibres to the sewing along carefully selected environmental and social criteria. If you see the green logo on the clothing tag, you can be sure that you are buying an item that is good for the planet and the people who made it. Here is a great list of other certifications that let you know that the brand you are interested in is sustainable.

    Slow Fashion Orbasics

    And one more important thing: Eco-labels certify the production of clothes, but usually not how they are shipped to you. When you shop online, be sure to check if the label uses a CO2-free delivery method, like DHL GoGreen.


    Slow Fashion Brands

    In the list below are some of our favorite stylish brands that have made it a central part of their mission to make their collection in a sustainable and transparent way. 


    Slow Fashion Trends

    Thankfully, there are many positive changes taking place in how we shop and make clothes. Here are the most exciting Slow Fashion trends that point to the future of sustainable fashion:

  • Second Hand - Not all trends have to be an invention of something new. Brands like Zircle by Zalando and Thredup are shedding the stuffy image of second-hand clothing by curating stylish selections of worn pieces at really affordable pieces.
  • Rentals - It doesn't make much sense to buy a dress for one event and never wear it again. Similar to a Spotify subscription, platforms like Rent the Runway are bringing the sharing economy to fashion with a monthly membership that allows you to rent outfits and give them back after.
  • Customization & 3D Printing - How cool would it be for our clothes to be knitted right in the store, without any long shipping? That technology is here today, with brands like Eileen Fisher testing ways to 3D-print custom clothes - such as a sweater that was knit one hour after being designed.
  • Recycled Clothing - Making fashion from old clothes or completely different materials is nothing new. Patagonia actually created a jacket made from used plastic in 1993. But lately, more companies like Adidas and Timberland are joining the trend of using unconventional materials like ocean plastic to make shoes, jackets and bags.

  • But the most important trend of all? Slow Fashion itself! Only if we start shopping more consciously and choosing better quality clothing, instead of giving into the desire for cheap and fast fashion, can the fashion world really change for the better!

    So let's check the tag for sustainable labels. Let's get to know the people who make our clothes. Let's ask questions to labels and let's speak to friends. It might sound a bit cheesy, but each one of us really can make a difference to slow down the fast-paced fashion world.



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