If you love fashion, then most likely you’d want to keep up with particular trends. We at Preview do, too, and it’s the very reason why we can truly appreciate fast fashion! Right? So cheap, so updated, always on sale! It seems a little too good to be true, and tbh, it is. Did you know that the fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting industry IN THE WORLD? It’s not even just the waste from chemicals and dyes, but also fabric crop (cotton can need tons of water) and some manufacturers resort to burning unused clothing if the supply overtakes demand. Good news though – there’s a sustainable fashion movement catching momentum.
By definition, according to GreenStrategy, sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. So, let’s get right on to slow fashion school…
Lesson #1: It starts with us.
Fast fashion came from a consumer need (that’s us) to have fashion fast and cheap – like everything that we have and consume and use everyday. It’s a product of our culture that we’ve learned as technology spoiled us when it comes to convenience.
Lesson #2: Everybody involved in the process of manufacturing should treated fairly (and yes, that includes Mama Nature).
One of the speakers, Charise Aquino-Tugade, who is with The Manila Collectible (a “culture space” – museum-giftshop-workshop in Intramuros) shares that this goes as deep as when you source your materials. She shares that especially when sourcing locally – since our own lands are rife with resources – you have to respect a culture/person/ethnic group/tribe’s tradition. She has even gone as far as being the center of a thanksgiving ritual in which she had to spear a pig – because to them, this is not just business, it’s their way of life. Another speaker, Tal de Guzman, owns Risque Designs, a shoe brand that sources ethically. She set up her own production because she found that most shoemakers were paid sadly and their hours were inhumane. What is our point in all of this? This means that everybody along the way is treated well. Because think about it in a basic business way – if it’s cheap for you, somebody else somewhere is paying the cost.
Lesson #3: You don’t need to be rich to begin practicing sustainable fashion.
I had been itching to ask the question even before I attended this talk – slow fashion is time consuming, effortful, and for sure expensive to produce, right? In a way, yes. But you don’t need to dive headfirst into production of Ethically Sourced Trendy Fashion (perhaps a paradox?) because right now, there are very few sources in the country. But do know this, the speakers gave sound advice on how you can definitely start with your own initiatives such as:
1. Buy from the local businesses when you travel.
Such as weavers, shoemakers, accessory makers, and DON’T HAGGLE. Tal, who sources from Laguna often say that most people in the provinces are very generous so when you haggle, they will let you. But don’t, because it’s most likely a) cheap and b) their only source of income. Please support them completely.
2. Go ukay-ukay shopping.
Most fashion girls’ on a budget’s secret weapon: thrift shopping. Because sustainable fashion is also about seeing your clothing’s life cycle through, this helps extend it more.
3. Mend your clothes.
On the topic of life cycles, Hannah Theisen, founder of Fashion Revolution, suggests to mend your clothes. We are also responsible for making the most of our existing clothing – if it’s a hole, sew it. If it’s a sole, send it to the shoemakers. Don’t just throw things out right away.
4. Outfit repeating is definitely OK!
Charise suggests that if you cannot see through the sourcing of your clothes, then buy less, and buy less frequently. Buy quality, too.
5. Have things made.
At Preview, we love championing local designers. So whether it’s your neighborhood seamstress, or your favorite gown designer, have your clothes made. This works great when you couple it with suggestion #1 – source your own fabric, then have it made. As for the treatment of workers, a lot of designers have teams that they work closely with – not sweat shops or mass production. Another great thing about this is that your clothes will fit perfectly, too.
Lesson #4 Local Sustainable Fashion is Changing the Perception of “Locally Made”
Celia Elumba, another speaker, is the Director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute. She believes that by supporting slow fashion locally – which means locally and ethically sourced start to finish – changes the perception that if it’s locally made, it’s not of good quality. Because as we all know, the better everybody is treated along the way, the more creative and motivated people are because they’re dignified (Tal says transparency with your suppliers like sharing with her workers their end product also helps them understand and love their work!), the more chances you will have a greater end product because it’s a labor of love.
Lesson #5 Fast Fashion Ends With Us
If it started with us, it’s only logical that we are the solution as well. Hannah from Fashion Revolution says it ends when we change the way we consume clothing, demand accountability from fashion brands (such as the #WhoMadeMyClothes movement on Instagram), and considering the entire life cycle of our clothing – this goes beyond just mending, we can also sell or donate old clothes, upcycle them, or donating them to be reprocessed.
Interested? Get involved here! And if you want to go as far as learning how to produce it yourself (or to train your staff, if you own a business), did you know that you actually can? The Philippine Textile Research offers courses here.