Fast fashion has gained significant attention in recent times. Greta Thunberg, in a recent interview with Vogue, criticized leaders in the fashion industry for their attempts to appear environmentally friendly while not genuinely addressing ecological concerns. She shared this interview on her Instagram account, where she accused the fashion industry of being a major contributor to climate and ecological crises.
The reality of waste in the fashion industry is no secret. Fast fashion typically refers to the production of trendy clothing quickly to meet consumer demand, primarily found in high-street stores. This approach prioritizes high-volume production, involving manufacturing, marketing, and design.
Unfortunately, this fast-paced fashion cycle often leads to exploitation, whether of natural resources (including animals and the environment) or of workers. The large quantity of discarded clothing, due to cheap quality or changing trends, further harms the environment and exacerbates climate and ecological issues.
The solution? Embracing the opposite approach—'Slow and Sustainable Fashion.' If you're curious about what slow fashion entails and how men can adopt it to change the narrative, continue reading to find answers to these questions.
What is slow fashion?
The term "slow fashion" gained recognition primarily through the work of author, designer, activist, and professor Kate Fletcher. She defined it as a concept focused on quality rather than speed. In essence, it parallels the principles of "slow food," emphasizing good quality, a clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers.
Slow fashion, as a reaction to fast fashion, is a movement where individuals make mindful choices and reject the exploitation of resources, animals, and people. Its core principle is the equitable treatment of all involved.
Slow fashion represents a deliberate and conscious effort to build an industry that benefits everyone. It seeks to engage and empower local artisans while using eco-friendly materials, leading to the creation of higher-quality, longer-lasting clothing. The movement also upholds the values of fairness toward people, animals, and the environment.
In recent years, as global awareness has grown, including concerns about what we consume and wear, the fashion industry has witnessed a shift in consumer consciousness. According to the 2019 "Pulse Fashion Industry Report," the fashion industry has made some improvements in social and environmental performance compared to the previous year. However, it notes that progress has been slower and that the industry is still far from achieving sustainability.
Companies continue to discard substantial quantities of unsold garments each year and have not implemented sufficient sustainable solutions to counteract the harm already inflicted on the environment. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the global fashion industry produces approximately 53 million metric tons of fiber annually, with over 70 percent ending up in landfills or being incinerated and less than 1 percent being reused to create new clothing.
Even the production of this volume of clothing is environmentally unfriendly, consuming vast amounts of water and chemicals that pose a significant threat to our planet, pushing us toward the brink of environmental catastrophe. With heightened awareness among the younger generation and a shift toward eco-friendly and sustainable practices, the pressing question is: What is the immediate need, and what role can men play in addressing these challenges?
Men and slow fashion
It's a common stereotype that men aren't particularly concerned about their clothing choices, but it's essential to reconsider this notion in light of changing times. Fashion preferences have evolved significantly, and we no longer live in an era where a single pantsuit or a jeans-and-t-shirt combo suffices for all occasions.
Men's fashion has undergone a transformation and has caught up with the fast-paced nature of the industry. Men now experiment with various looks for different events and are increasingly fashion-conscious. Consider this example: In my social circle, there's an individual, let's call him 'Male A,' who is deeply passionate about collecting various brands of shoes and hoodies. Male A's enthusiasm extends to purchasing items based on what his favorite celebrities wear in movies or elsewhere.
This isn't just an isolated case but rather a reflection of a broader trend among the younger generation, where men eagerly follow the latest fashion trends and celebrity styles. Today's men are well-informed about fashion and strive to stay in tune with current trends.
However, this heightened fashion awareness comes at a cost, as more and more young men fall into the trap of 'fast fashion.' In the past, the stereotype of men being disinterested in fashion and shopping inadvertently steered them towards the path of sustainable and slow fashion. During that time, a single garment was often considered the epitome of fashion and was worn repeatedly. The great thing about men's wardrobes back then was the presence of timeless pieces. Unknowingly, men from that era became pioneers of eco-conscious consumerism.
While the stereotype of men's disinterest in fashion and shopping is fading, it is also ushering in a generation of men who are more open to 'fast fashion.' The only solution to this shift is to educate men and young adults about the detrimental effects of fast fashion and raise awareness about how they can make choices that align with sustainable fashion ideals.
In our effort to provide men with sustainable options, we have compiled a list of slow and eco-conscious fashion brands from around the world. These brands are dedicated to being environmentally friendly and embracing the principles of the slow fashion movement.
B Label, the clothing line from Bombay Hemp Company, offers sustainable clothing solutions. This brand takes the eco-friendly path, crafting garments from natural fibers that are also UV-resistant. The clothing that B Label offers is not only fashionable and elegant, but it also leaves no carbon footprint.
No Nasties is a planet-positive brand that caters to both genders, producing clothing and various other products. Their garments are manufactured in a fair trade factory, and all of their products are proudly made within the country. The brand's design and fashion aesthetic follow a minimalist approach and embrace size inclusivity.
DaMENSCH serves as a bridge between traditional, modern, and comfortable clothing, offering a diverse range of long-lasting garments. What sets this brand apart is its 500-day warranty on the fabric, a bold departure from the fast fashion ethos.
Hailing from Colorado, 'Pact' specializes in essential clothing items crafted from 100 percent ethically manufactured cotton in fair trade-certified factories. Their products are not only sustainable but also built to endure the test of time.
Kotn is a Canadian brand that offers breathable men's cotton essentials. What sets them apart is their distinctive approach: they directly partner and collaborate with family-run farms in Egypt and Portugal. Additionally, they support their suppliers in transitioning to organic farming practices and ensure they receive fair living wages.
If you're seeking both comfort and a vibrant pop of color in your clothing, we recommend Boden. This brand not only offers a stylish range but is also a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative. They are dedicated to fair trade, responsible sourcing, and ethical practices across all their factories.
Written by: Aakanksha Bajpai
Edited by: Aniket Joshi