Slow. Eco. Ethical. Sustainable. There’s not a single answer or definition for each of these terms. We’re talking about concepts that are subject to personal perceptions, values and principles. For that, after reading this post, I encourage you to do your own research and build up an opinion based on your beliefs. This is a generic guide to draw the differences between each concept, understand them better and simply lead a proper use of the terms while discussing conscious fashion matters.
The concept was raised as an antidote to counteract the effects of Fast Fashion. An industry embodied by giant retailers (Zara, H&M, Forever 21, etc.) that are producing a lot of pollution, waste, unsafe working conditions and other devastating events, all by cranking out cheap, disposable garments. Instead of 4 seasons a year, nowadays consumers find themselves rushing after 52 or more seasons a year to keep up with trends.
Slow Fashion is the pure antithesis of Fast Fashion. It’s literally taking things slow. It’s thinking more about the garment, its quality and focus on pieces that are designed to stay longer in fashion. It’s a whole movement or a revolutionary thinking that encourages people to make the deliberate choice of buying better quality items, less often.
For example, if you feel familiar with the concepts ‘fast food’ vs. ‘slow food’, then consider this like the ‘farm to table’ of the fashion world.
It’s all about the garment’s impact on the environment. Here’s where you pay attention to the fabrics, the provenance of the materials used, the production methods and even the packaging or shipping. Eco Fashion is keeping it green. From choosing the brands that are committed to leave the lowest environmental footprint to picking the garments that are made up with recycled or re-purposed materials.
In the end, there are so many factors that can be considered under the Eco term but what you have to keep in mind is that it really focuses on the ENVIRONMENT.
The word ethical is very subjective, it opens a lot of discussion. It’s a matter of moral perception and personal values. What’s important to know here is that this term evokes the human side of the fashion industry. By human I intend fair wages, decent working conditions, right treatment for workers, respect for the communities involved and even consider animals into this matter (cruelty free). It’s a call for good practices and conducts based on respect.
Sometimes, brands call themselves Ethical just because they donate a percentage of their sales, which is definitely an initiative to applaud. But redirecting profits to a good cause does not show the whole picture and when it comes to ethics, such an integral concept, all matters should be taken into consideration.
This term embodies all the terms mentioned before. It’s a balanced concept. Sustainability implies the continuous improvement of all stages of a product’s life cycle, from the design, raw materials, manufacturing, transport, marketing, up to the final sale, use and purpose of the product.
Sustainable fashion can be defined by those garments manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account environmental and socio-economic aspects.
From the environmental perspective, it means minimizing any undesirable footprints, ensuring a careful use of natural resources, clinging to renewable energy and optimizing all stages of the production cycle by maximizing the reuse and recycling of the product and its components. From the socio-economic point of view, it’s about continuously improving working conditions, being aligned with good ethics, conduct codes and best practices. It also implies encouraging more sustainable consumption patterns and promote a solid foundation for the future by using smartly all the resources we have today.
To sum up, sustainability is a term than can be easily applied to everything and it intends to allow coming generations to experience what we are undergoing today. It’s all about building a solid foundation for the future by using efficiently and smartly all the resources we have today.