Fashion & Shopping

Slow Fashion Ins And Outs For 2024

January 15, 2024

It’s a new year and the what’s hot and what’s not lists are coming in fast! As a reformed over-shopper, I used to pour over these lists every year, every season, to help me decide what I should and shouldn’t be wearing. I’d pay attention to silhouettes, pant and skirt hem lengths, colours, prints and what items would be most coveted for the upcoming year. Over the past six or so years I have moved away from fast fashion and over-consumption and adopted a more thoughtful and slow fashion mindset. There have been so many benefits to embracing slow fashion such as getting more wear out of the clothes I have, having a better sense of my personal style, and ultimately spending less money. If you’re looking for a fresh start for 2024 and want to streamline your wardrobe and find your personal style, this In and Out list is for you. —Jen Pistor

Out: Over-consuming and buying things we don’t truly love. According to the University of Waterloo, Canadians trash approximately a billion pounds of clothing and fabric each year. Textile waste is a huge global problem. We must consume less. 

In: Purchasing only items we truly love and will wear a minimum of 30 times. The 30 wear challenge is a great way to prevent us from making poor purchasing decisions. Before you buy something ask yourself “Will I actually wear this 30 times?”  If not, pass on the item.  If yes, consider adding it to your wardrobe. 

Out: Following trends and letting them guide our style choices. The constant fast turnover of trends along with cheap fast fashion has created a devastating buy-throw-away cycle. And sadly, even with those clothes you donate, only 10 to 30 per cent of it will actually be sold locally.  The remainder will either be sent to landfill locally or shipped to the Global South for resale where the majority of those items will be sent to their landfills.

In: Editing our wardrobes to reflect our personal style and ignoring trends. According to CBC Marketplace, the average Canadian purchases 70 new articles of clothing each year.  This excessive purchasing contributes to textile waste. By skipping trends and embracing our personal style by investing in pieces that are timeless, we end the throw-away culture and instead make our loved clothes last.

Out: Sustainable fashion being a short-term trend. Many trend lists include sustainable fashion as a trend. While it’s a trend we love to see, we’d prefer to see this be a standard and not a short lived fad.  

In: Slow fashion being a long-term lifestyle change.  If the term slow fashion is new to you, let’s define what the term means. Good On You sums it up perfectly: “Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It encompasses an awareness and approach to fashion that carefully considers the processes and resources required to make clothing. It advocates for buying better-quality garments that will last longer, and values fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet along the way. Realistically, slow fashion and sustainable or ethical fashion have a lot of similarities. They are sister movements and follow the same general guidelines. The main difference with slow fashion is that it hones in on reducing consumption and production more specifically, harkening back to the pre-fast fashion era of our grandparents when clothing was a long-term investment rather than a throwaway hobby.”

Out: Synthetic fabrics that are derived from oil.  It is estimated that 60 to 70 per cent of fabrics globally are now made of synthetic materials. Fabrics like spandex, polyester, nylon, acrylic and vegan leather are all plastic and made from oil. While certain garments like outerwear, swimwear, and workout wear may prove to be harder categories to shop for with purely natural fabrics, we can choose to do better elsewhere.

In: Choosing natural fabrics whenever we can, even when shopping secondhand. Clothing like T-shirts, pants, dresses, sweaters, socks, scarves, etc. can all be easily found in natural fabrics both new and secondhand.  Opting for materials like organic cotton, Tencel, linen and recycled wool are some of the best options. Always read your labels when shopping. Natural fabrics will also not shed microplastics when laundering like synthetics do.

Out: Buying things on a whim just because it’s cheap. In a world where everything has become more expensive, how is it that fast fashion clothing prices have gone down? The simplest answer? Exploitation of people and the planet. When a clothing item can be as low as under $10, someone somewhere is paying the price for that cheap garment and the planet is being harmed, too.

In: Saving up to buy a special piece that you will wear for years to come. With garments being worn on average only seven times before being discarded, we need to be buying less and buying better. If we extend the life of our clothes by just nine months, we would reduce that garment’s carbon footprint and water waste by around 20 to 30 per cent. The longer you keep an item, the lesser their impact. Loved clothes last, so buy only items you love.

Out: Only buying new clothing. There are absolutely going to be times when buying new is the best option. Especially when that option is supporting small, local, ethical and sustainable slow-fashion brands. Diversifying how we shop for our clothing is not only better for the planet, it helps us carve out our own individual style. 

In: Buying clothes secondhand first and then shopping local, small brands whenever possible. A quick Google search shows that there are an estimated 1,484 thrift stores in Canada. Those shops are receiving items daily and allow only four weeks for garments to sell before they are bundled and shipped to the Global South. That is a lot of options for secondhand shopping. On top of that we now have the option to shop pre-loved online too from both independent shops and resale apps like Poshmark and Ebay. With so much clothing out there looking for a new home, shopping secondhand just makes sense. 


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