Fashion Fix: How to join the slow fashion movement
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From June 21-September 21, Slow Fashion Season aims to encourage people to make more conscious and sustainable fashion choices. We find out more from one of the campaign’s ambassadors, Norwich fashion stylist Karen James-Welton, aka Fabulous Miss K.
Many of us love shopping for fashion – buying a new top or a pair of shoes can undoubtedly be a real pick me up. And in the world of fast fashion, the latest trends can be off the catwalk and into stores within weeks, without the designer price tag. But, as Stacey Dooley’s eye-opening documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, revealed it comes at a cost.
While many fashion brands are making great efforts to clean up their act, historically, clothing production is responsible for enormous amounts of water consumption (in Dooley’s film she discovered that it can take more than 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make a pair of jeans), CO2 emissions and pollution from textile dyeing. Then there’s the waste that it makes. And, of course, the working conditions of the people making the clothes is another huge consideration.
Slow Fashion Season aims to raise consciousness about the role consumers play in the fashion industry – and how they have the power to change it for the better. Last year’s event saw more than 14,000 people pledge to not buy any new clothes for three months. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event, which runs from June 21 to September 21, is slightly different. As the current situation is affecting many small businesses, rather than not buying anything new, participants are encouraged to make conscious choices about their clothing – so, for example, making the most of what they already own by trading, upcycling or repairing clothing, buying secondhand and vintage and supporting sustainable, local and small fashion labels which might be going through a difficult time.
Organisers hope that 25,000 people will sign up – and Norwich-based fashion stylist Karen James-Welton, aka the Fabulous Miss K, is among those taking part. Passionate about vintage and sustainable fashion, Karen’s personal motto is “vintage is for everyone”.
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She joined in with Slow Fashion Season last year, and then when she signed up for 2020 she also volunteered to became an ambassador to help spread the word.
“As I have always encouraged my styling and personal shopping clients to shop vintage this was an ideal way to get the sustainable message out there,” she says. “The campaign is just a starting point to get people to think about the way they shop for clothes and then hopefully continue to be mindful of their future purchases.”
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Karen started wearing vintage fashion when she was in her teens.
“I got a subscription to Vogue magazine and wanted to buy the clothes in the fashion editorials, but it was out of my price range so I started to hunt around vintage and secondhand shops to find my own versions of the trends. I always wanted to have an individual look and not be the same as everyone else and wearing vintage gives me the opportunity to express my creativity through what I wear,” she says.
Karen suggests several ways that people can become more mindful about their fashion shopping choices.
“Think about where your clothes come from, research brands and ask who made my clothes? Investigate brands that are transparent in how they manufacture their clothes and treat their workers. Take a look at the coverage on social media and follow people and campaigns that are working towards more sustainable options,” says Karen.
Many fashion purchases are made on impulse and then go on to languish unworn in our wardrobes, so next time you’re tempted to buy, Karen recommends slowing down and considering whether it’s really necessary.
“Think before you make your next purchase and ask yourself ‘do I really need this or am I just buying it for the sake of having something new?’” says Karen. “Instead of throwing away pieces that don’t work for you, can you donate them, swap with your friends or mend it before discarding it?”
And, of course, there is buying vintage and pre-loved. Finding a piece that really is a one-off is a chance to really stand out from the crowd. As shops prepare to to re-open in the coming weeks, Karen has some advice if you’re new to shopping vintage and find the idea daunting,
“Vintage and pre-loved clothes are just clothes at the end of the day and can be worn in the same way as a garment bought from a high street store,” says Karen. “Just because they are old makes no difference to how you wear them. Designers take inspiration from the past all the time, so you can make vintage look modern.
“Start with something like a vintage scarf or bag – that way you don’t have to think about sizing as vintage sizes are very different from today’s sizes. Don’t have something definite in mind, as that is the joy of vintage shopping – you never know what you may find! Have an open mind – look at fabrics and prints or the cut of items and see what appeals to you. Don’t look at the sizes but try everything on – you can always get things altered.
“If the thought of trawling around [shops and markets] isn’t for you, then maybe look on Etsy or Instagram to find a vintage seller whose style you admire and shop with them or a designer consignment shop. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something you wouldn’t normally wear – you may be surprised.”
Follow Slow Fashion Season on Facebook and Instagram for updates and more tips. Karen blogs online at fabulousmissk.co.uk and she’s on Instagram @fabulousmissk.