What is slow fashion?

Slow fashion is an approach to clothing that prioritizes a thoughtful, introspective perspective on what, why and how we buy products. It’s the antithesis of a fast fashion model that promotes compulsive, trend-led shopping habits, often propelled by high discounts, low pricing and weekly new options. Slow fashion revolves around the notion that the clothes we buy should be treated as an investment to be kept and cared for, and that every purchase should be made responsibly with the view of keeping and wearing it for a long time.

How have our shopping habits changed over the years?

The way we buy clothing has changed beyond recognition. The average American purchased 68 new pieces of clothing in 2019—compared to just 12 in 1980*. Of those 68 items, only half of them were worn more than 3 times. We’re buying more clothes, at a faster pace, than ever before—and then leaving them in our closets. This overconsumption is not sustainable, and it’s contributing to our planet’s climate crisis.

How can practicing slow fashion help the planet?

We believe that every action—no matter how small—adds up. By buying less, and purchasing items that transcend seasons or are made from responsibly-sourced materials, we’re helping reduce our environmental impact.

Cotton, for example, is the world’s largest non-food crop, and conventional farming methods use genetically modified seeds and pesticides, which over time, deplete soil nutrition and reduce local biodiversity. By making sure our next purchases are made with cotton (grown without pesticides), or one step further, grown using regenerative practices (that support soil health and farmers) we’re investing in methods that give back more than they take. 

Also, by re-evaluating our connection with clothing—choosing to mend or repair items instead of throwing them away (where they may end up in landfill or incinerators), or opting for second-hand items instead of purchasing brand new—we can help to lower the demand for new clothing being produced.

What’s the main issue with slow fashion?

Choosing a slow fashion approach can sometimes be more expensive. Clothing that’s created with higher quality materials and with fair, ethical production processes can increase the average cost. However, if we shift our mindset to quality over quantity—only buying what’s needed when we really need it—it should even out, and reduce the need to continue repurchasing or replacing our clothing over time.

How does PANGAIA incorporate slow fashion principles into their work?

What our clothes are made with—and how they’re treated—matters. For more information on the materials and technologies we use at PANGAIA, discover our Science & Impact hub.