Embracing slow fashion: Cultivating sustainability and personal style

by | Mar 18, 2024 | Arts & Life

NAITSA is hosting its third Sustainability Week from March 18 to 22, and we could all benefit from moving to a place of intentionality and patience to promote sustainable practices. Let’s slow down our consumption together – starting with fashion.

Sustainability does not need to be a lifestyle that feels insurmountable and inaccessible. It can be a shift in perspective, a way of consuming with longevity in mind, repurposing what is already yours, or dissecting your personal style. As a sustainable fashion enthusiast, I want to discuss what sustainability can look like from the perspective of a student with a part-time job and a lower amount of disposable income. How can we practise sustainability without breaking the “non-existent” bank? Let’s explore.

First, ask yourself some questions before you buy something to break down why you are consuming. These questions are rooted in personal style rather than trend and will automatically slow down consumption habits since you’re only buying what resonates with you. The questions are:

  1. Can I find the item second-hand?
  2. Do I already have something like this in my closet?
  3. Without buying anything else, how would you style the item?
  4. If the shipping took two months, would you still buy the item?

I have used these questions to dissect my personal style and place intention with my consumption habits.

Next, remember this mantra: Mend, repair, tailor, wear. Our first instinct now is to purchase a replacement item for something that breaks or is looking worn, yet we overlook the option to fix what is already created. Not only are we providing someone with a job, but we are also choosing to not consume and practice sustainability.

When it comes to making purchases, shop second-hand! Thrift your little heart out and buy things that are new to you, but old to the planet. Shop vintage, second-hand, used – whatever name you want to call it. According to Arabella Ruiz, a senior researcher at The Roundup, “Between 80 and 100 billion new clothing garments are produced globally each year.” This showcases the extreme excess of clothing that can be easily purchased from used clothing stores and local resellers. Living by the ideology of “new to you, old to the planet” allows us to look at garments with longevity and a slow mindset.

Now, it’s time to get personal–with our styles, of course. So much of our clothing consumption habits are rooted in a lack of personal style. This is quite the journey, but one that is fulfilling and meaningful beyond the words used to describe it. Personal style is, I think, the best way to slow down clothing consumption as we are only buying what truly resonates with us when the feeling of impulse and trend subside. I am learning what I prefer to put on my body, what shapes I enjoy most on myself, and redirecting my perspective to look inward at what I want rather than dressing and consuming for outward validation. The key to personal style is a deep understanding of what we like and how we want clothes to translate that feeling. Not all these explorations are ground-breaking, but they are realistic and accessible ways of practising sustainability and slowing down clothing consumption. If we dissect our decisions to understand the “why” behind our consumption habits, we can consume with longevity, confidence and intentionality. 

On March 20 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., three speakers will be giving the lowdown on sustainability through different lenses in the Dow Theatre. The panel will be made up of Katrina Hillyer from Earth Warrior Lifestyle, Sarah Janzen from Blenderz Garment Recyclers, and myself, Sara Farrar from Cherry Pick Collective. Learn more about sustainability and slowing down clothing consumption at the NAITSA Sustainability Week – Speaker Panel and RSVP on Ooks Life.

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