Share Date: 20 October 2023 8 dk Reading Time
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Redefining Slow Fashion

Is it possible to return to our old habits of consumption culture in the world of fashion and textiles? Did you know that Slow Fashion has a surprisingly old history? Let's take a look at how this journey, which started with the coming together of the words fashion, textile and slow, leads to sustainability.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of slow fashion? 

In the article "Discreet Feminine Creativity" in Şölen Kipöz's book Sustainable Fashion, Mine Ovacık exemplified it as follows; a design approach that includes the knowledge that our mothers used to learn in evening art schools. She explained that cultural habits passed down from generation to generation brought savings and transformation in consumption; patching the knees of clothes, socks and pants, elbows of sweaters, making bedspreads from old leftover fabrics with the patch method were slow fashion steps. In fact, these daily habits include the concepts of transformation, reuse, redesign and upcycling, which were unknown at the time but which we use a lot nowadays. More familiar names are re-use re-design re-cycle and upcycling.

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In these days when sustainability is now part of our lives, designers are going back to the past with their experiments as a result of the damage caused to ecological life by the consumer culture brought about by industrialization and capitalism. Can the old ways of producing and consuming be adapted to the new order? 

Is a social, economic and environmental change possible through their designs?

How did our production and consumption habits get here? Today, especially in Anatolian villages, old habits still persist. It is very common to reuse and recycle, both when it comes to food and personal needs. And every single resource used is very valuable. At this point, a memory from my childhood comes to my mind; my grandmother repairing my grandfather's worn out clothes or transforming them into another form of clothing and preparing them for reuse, and making sure not to throw away even the smallest piece of fabric left over. If we asked my grandmother how she would define the terms slow fashion with their new names, I think she would say re-use when she repairs and reuses the garment, re-design when she gives it a different form, and re-cycle when she reuses the fabric pieces without throwing them away. And so we can see that from those times to now, the sustainability of fashion has been renewed and iterated.

Let's take a look at the new definitions of Slow Fashion and its terms;

Slow Fashion: Due to the competitive structure in modern societies and the new demands created with the influence of the progressive perspective, the phenomenon of unsatisfied, high stress level speed has started to be questioned. As the understanding of life of different cultures is learned more deeply and the drawbacks of the speed society are seen, the importance of the experience of "living in the moment", which has been advocated by sages in traditional societies for thousands of years and which modern psychologists such as Abraham Maslow call the "peak experience", has begun to be understood again. In support of the Slow Movement, the following actions have been initiated: The term "Slow Movement" is translated into English as "Slow Movement". It is a social movement that criticizes fast and modern life and advocates cultural change that will transform fast modern consumption patterns in different areas of life, such as the way of eating, economic life, relationships between people.

It is a fashion movement that produces locally from sustainable and fair trade sources and has business plans that ensure longevity, transparency and traceability.

Ecological Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Ethical Fashion and Circular Fashion are other fashion movements that support Slow Fashion. Each of them has a common denominator on the basis of sustainability through the production-consumption cycle.

Fair Trade: As producers and suppliers, it is a type of trade in which the forms and conditions of production and conditions of traditional trade, which are extremely physically, mentally and mentally exhausting, are eliminated, improvements are made in the living conditions of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups and they are enabled to have influence over their own lives.

It has an understanding that puts social justice at its center and considers the well-being and lives of individuals and communities, and the health and safety of workers.

Traceability: Traceability is the recording of the production, packaging, storage, shipment stages of a product and all the processes it goes through until it reaches the point of sale. The ability to share the recorded information when necessary is also included in traceability. In addition, recording data on the source of product components is a prerequisite for an effective traceability system. According to ISO 9001, traceability is the ability to trace the history, application or location of an object. In this way, the traceability system enables access to the source of a product that may put human health at risk, and if there is a problem, at what stage it occurs or the cause of the problem.

Transparency: Transparency means openly publishing and publicizing how brands carry out their social, economic and environmental policies and how they implement their practices in various fields in all processes from raw material procurement to the sale of products on store shelves. Transparency, which means publishing information about how, by whom and under what conditions products are produced and distributed in a way that people can access, essentially means honesty when considered in this context.

Social Justice: The concept of social justice is a concept that has emerged in order to create a fair and equitable social life in the relations between various communities and groups in society from a political and philosophical point of view, as well as regulating relations in legal terms.

The emergence of problems that jeopardize and violate human rights and many vital values with the emergence of unfair distribution shows that the issue should be approached seriously. To ensure social justice, various social institutions are tasked with ensuring the fair distribution of wealth, equality of opportunity, taxation, social security, public health, public services, labor law and the regulation of markets.

Fashion has a system that allows for increased competition in economic, political and social spheres. 

Circularity: Circularity is a system that has no beginning or end, based on the shape of a circle. Circularity refers to the fact that products and materials with very different properties turn back into a new product or material without losing anything of their physical and chemical properties.

As an alternative economic system, it envisages breaking the cycle of production-consumption-waste, keeping products in a continuous closed loop, and reusing waste and leftover materials over and over again through methods such as recycling, downcycling, upcycling, reuse, and repair.

Recycling: The process of transforming end-of-use materials into new materials or objects. It is a transformation process that reduces the need to collect new raw materials, saves energy, and reduces environmental pollution by enabling post-consumer waste and residual materials to be utilized and reproduced. Re-use, re-design and re-cycle is the process of recycling, reclaiming fiber, yarn or fabric in the field of textiles and fashion in the fields of patchwork, do-it-yourself, second-hand, clothing swap, repair and vintage. Cotton and polyester are the leading textiles that can be recycled. However, materials with similar fiber properties are also recycled in a different way; for example, plastic bottles can be recycled to obtain polyester fabric. Recycling of textiles is seen as a controversial issue in terms of sustainability, as it covers only one percent of all recycled materials. The use of more than one fiber in textiles makes recycling very difficult. Another problem is that recycling still perpetuates environmental pollution. 

As a footnote, I would like to share with you right here; With SwatchLOOP, which is a solution to both environmental and data pollution by combining Recycling and Digitalization, a strong step has been taken in textile recycling that creates value for stakeholders and nature.

The Production-Consumption Cycle: In the classical perspective, in the production and consumption cycle, society is divided into two spheres: firms (producers) and households (consumers). Firms start the flow of money by producing goods and services paid for by households. This monetary flow repeats itself, creating the production-consumption cycle.

It means organizing people's wardrobes to get rid of the clothes they do not use. Wardrobe simplification also allows for the evaluation of unused clothes by giving them to others or selling them in second-hand shops in order to create a wardrobe consisting of a few basic pieces of clothing. It is an action taken to be a more conscious user and to prevent unnecessary expenses by being loyal to the clothes that people use the most for a long time.

It means creating a new good, product, work, work or service as a result of certain activities and processes and making it ready for use.

It advocates allocating time for longer design processes, discussions, i.e. intellectual processes, impact-response tests and interactions based on these. "slow fashion" is designing "for the person", using local, regional materials and technologies, local industry and workshops that support artisans and production methods for appropriate designs. "slow design" is living and designing by considering and studying nature's own time cycles and merging with nature. "slow fashion design" will be influenced by human behavior and sustainability in long cycles. Slow design takes into account the depth and findings of being and positive psychology. As slow fashion is a form of slow design, it should embrace all the principles of slow design and be used for the future and well-being of the whole world.

It requires effort to switch to the concept of slow fashion and slow design and to change the ossified system of fast fashion. However, transitioning to slow design and adopting an immaterial nature for the sake of human well-being, happiness and long-term sustainability can also be seen as the right way forward.