This week in April its Fashion Revolution week, so I thought it a good time to pop some words down and speak to what we do as part of the slow fashion moment.
You may be asking yourself what the hell is a fashion revolution or slow fashion for that matter, and I'm so glad you asked. Its important to not just accept terms and words as they are and to actually know what they mean and why they are important. Fashion revolution has come from extreme tragedy, the Rana plaza collapse brought to light issues the world was unaware of regarding practices and treatment of big fashion brand employees. Sheading light on the fashion industry at large, the processes and outcomes that need to change for the sustainability of brands and more importantly the people in it and the planet. (Google Rana plaza to learn more, I'm not going into detail about this tragedy here).
The fashion industry globally is one of the biggest contributors to landfill and waste. Why? the most obvious reason is what we term 'Fast fashion', the constant, abundant and rapid cycling of clothing made in factories for large brands to sell fast and cheap. There are lots of them and they turn over millions of garments a year, and not all of these garments are of good quality or used, and A LOT goes to waste, straight into our landfills. Hey, we have all bought from these brands, we aren't perfect, but we can do better and that's what its about.
Fashion revolution is addressing issues regarding transparency in processes too. Looking at how workers are treated; how much they are paid, and how they live as a result of these wages. Its also highlighting how companies contribute to environmental impacts through their various practices from materials, to manufacturing to distribution. Its a whole big picture thing.
The term 'Slow fashion' is in essence the complete opposite to 'Fast fashion'. Rather than fast and cheap, its about making quality, long lasting and valuable fashion garments. Slow fashion is about the appreciation of fashion, treasuring design and its construction. Understanding that when you buy an garment made in Australia by a small manufacturer or by a handmade brand you are buying more than just a garment. You are buying part of something bigger; you are supporting local, ethical, non factory made or small batch. You are contributing to the sustainably of small brands, not big commercial corporate brands with millions of dollars in turnover and practices which harm our environment and their staff. You are supporting the little guys who want to make beautiful high quality garments and who think about how doing this impacts the world. You are supporting a maker who can tell you each step of how something is made, and give you names of the people involved in each step. Now that's something to think about.
Handmade clutch using our textiles - NanaRama latte
So why do we consider our brand Schudio to be slow fashion? Firstly we are 'Made to order', which means once we have a pattern refined and are ready to make it, we test it and make that garment, and then you buy from that. So we don't have stockpiles of fashion ready, we don't have an off shore manufacturer producing thousands of garments for us, we have a couple of garments made and wait until you say go. This means you also have to be patient and wait for your fashion to be made. But rest assured the quality will be worth it and you'll treasure this garment, it will spark joy!
Secondly we do everything! I design the textiles, as you may know I am the designer for the brand and I create the art that becomes our fabric, so its unique to us. Cass is the maker, she sews every garment and every product we have from pattern making to cutting to final stitch, its all her.
Handmade fashion - Varina Tank in Succ-it Black textile
Thirdly we do this all in Australia. Yes, everything! We design, print and make in Australia. We use suppliers and materials as locally as we can find and do most of the work ourselves. This means its a process we can control and know that what we produce is of a very high standard and worth your money.
By making to order and using local, we limit waste and support our local economy.
So how can you get behind the emerging fashion revolution and the slow fashion movement? Well there are a couple of small changes you can make that go a long way.
1. Stop buying from the big commercial brands - It seems like a lot to ask, but if you just decide that's not what you value, it becomes really simple.
2. Shop small - Spend your money buying from boutiques, small local businesses, and handmakers.
3. Buy at markets - There are lots of small businesses out there trying to get your attention and make an impact. Come to a designers market (with intention) and buy from some of the stalls, don't just look and say nice things.
4. Support your creative friends - If you have a friend or relative or co worker who is trying to make a creative businesses come to life, especially one you believe in, support them. Buy something, share their Facebook posts, comment on their Instagram, tell other people.
5. Thrift - OK this is good one and one I am especially good at, thrifting. Its a new concept to a lot of people. Buying secondhand has not always been a trendy thing to do, but its a really great way to reduce waste and re-purpose fashion. Visit opportunity shops like the Salvos or Vinnies, hit up events like wardrobe warriors and suitcase rummages. You can also use online thrifting apps like DePop to buy secondhand, so much fun.
6. Clothes swap and refurbish - Clothes swaps and swap parties are becoming more common, you take some of your unwanted garments and trade them or pay small fees to buy off other people and get something different. Refurbishing garments is a very creative way to get new life from something and we actually do this as part of our range of salvaged fashion (check it out on our website). You take a garment you like and that has potential to be more interesting and embellish it with studs, or fringing, pom poms, or paint (if you dare), beads, sequins and more. Make it your own and give it new life.
7. Buy investment pieces - I have this rule where I try to either thrift or buy statement pieces, so everything I own has to come from one of these categories. Investment or statement pieces are usually far more expensive than thrifted as they are typically higher end or hand-crafted. They are thoughtfully created and can be a quality staple (goes with a lot) or a bejeweled beauty which is for wearing sometimes (special piece). Either way I 'invest' in a piece of fashion which I will get many years from.
Salvaged denim jacket with hand sequined eye of protection on back
At the end of the day the fashion revolution and slow fashion movements are about thinking consciously about your purchases; making decisions beyond impulse and not buying something simply because 'its so cheap'. Its something that we won't always get right, but if we all try, we can make a difference.
By Kim Schubel
For more salvaged pieces and to support our slow fashion go to schudio.com.au