Keeping up to date with consumer trends and the changing fashion industry in Australia as well as influences over seas, I’ve been looking for what is missing in all the hype and commercialism coming to us locally from international brands setting up big shop and local brands selling out, offshore.
I recently came across a movement called ‘slow fashion’ while it doesn’t sound appealing in a era of fast everything, it is actually gaining momentum with environmental and socially conscious people globally and perhaps it is the missing ingredient in the fashion industry in Australia. In food we have raw options, health and environment is in vogue and many other service and product industries have a ‘green’ or shades of green options that are gaining in popularity.
Let’s look first at fast fashion to get an idea what it is all about. Mass produced fashion comes at a huge cost, while it is cheap for the end user, encouraging them to buy way more than they need from the design stage to the shop floor takes a few week. Inevitably it’s the environment and supply chain workers that suffer the long term consequence.
The industry of fast fashion constantly contributes to the depletion of fossil fuels in production and transport, fresh water resources are being depleted in irrigation for cotton crops and then there is the poisonous pesticides and synthetic man made fabrics that contribute to the damage of eco-systems and forest internationally. If this continues to increase at the same rate, industry and consumers will be faced with the impact of their un-sustainable practice in the future. We need to re-design the approach NOW.
Slow fashion is all about being eco friendly, green and ethical. I am reminded of the French or Japanese appreciation for hand crafted, local and thoughtful products. When I lived in Japan what was so nice about local produce was it was always up to date with Season, in fact the food, culture and Season were all interwoven and there was a real sense of gratitude for the earth and what blessings nature bestowed, making good use of it. I crave Austaliana, I don’t feel it much anymore in fashion when I go to the CBD, where is the heart and soul of our country in retail? Not only that I often worry about where the products have come from and the mindless consumerism that goes on in larger mass produced fashion outlets.
Visioning the big picture and how environment, economy and sustainability are all interrelated is becoming more and more valued by consumers and it is up to Industry now to educate and provide some solutions. Slowing down consumerism so that it is in rhythm with nature is one goal of the slow fashion movement as well as providing cultural diversity and bio-diverse and ethical workplace practice.
Recognising this gap is a major opportunity for local Industry to get involved with the creation of codes of conduct, developing brand to provide fashion needs that foster emotional real stories behind the creation giving the products and brand a greater sense of value and quality, doing so will bring back gratitude for our resources and understanding of the energy it takes to create. Bring back the ‘experience’ to shopping and buying and stop peddling a fantasy. The team at Artist on Location are perfect for capturing ‘real stories’ it’s what we do and we do it with heart. Imagine a campaign that could tell a real brand story proudly?
Collaborating with others who think alike will bring stronger relationships and more power behind this movement until it reaches mainstream and changes the way we think and act as consumers and eventually industrialized nations, if we don’t it will all end regardless as the current system can not sustain.
Developing the slow fashion movement is also a chance to develop local business and skill and share with undeveloped communities and nations who completely skip the whole mass produced way of life. I recently interviewed Australian Designer and AOL stylist, Nixi Killick who had travelled to Nepal to set up manufacturing using sustainable work practice and she told me many communities had gone from mud huts to solar panels!
Quality and beauty never dates, and it is rare these days to go into a larger store and feel the products have much value, its cheap and may make you feel good for a while because perhaps some famous person wore it in the ad but how would you feel if the ad showed a factory worker slaving away in a poor underdeveloped community that is surrounded in garbage, transported on a ship spewing carbon emissions into the environment and the garment may only we worth a couple of bucks and not just one, there are hundreds of them?! Turn a blind eye? Ignorant!
If you willing to think about being a conscious consumer you raise your value right there, you begin to see that fast fashion is just not worth the cheap price tag, apart from looking cheap the value of the culture that created it is destroying the earth and you begin to wonder am I part of that problem or do I want to align with the solution?
Professionally as a team we are very interested in working with brands to foster the essence of slow fashion, engage customers in story telling through visual and interactive on-line campaigns, as I believe there is a growing need to cater to this market and more importantly the earth.
We have a long way to go in Australia to really get to the heart of Slow Fashion value but as we move through changing times will Australians begin to feel a need for local Australian quality and foster the values around preserving our beautiful nature by Industry changes in line with these values?
Small steps are a great start!