On the principles of Slow Fashion

Fashion operates under a system governed by time. 

The time it takes for the cotton plant to yield its fibre; the time designers spend developing an idea from concept to product in a continuous cycle of seasons; the time a sewer takes to complete a seam on a factory floor; the time a garment is worn; the time that lapses for it to decompose when disposed of. Slow fashion aims to reveal these relationships of provenance, process, and product by holistically and critically looking at the life cycle of a garment to explore the following concepts:

Consider the strain the industry has on the planet’s finite resources and device systems and practices that follow natural paces of growth, reduce waste, are free of harmful chemicals, and respect the livelihood of suppliers. 

-Reveal the technical and conceptual processes that give life and significance to a garment, whether it is the preservation of traditional handcraft, the development of new technologies, or the messages transcribed in the clothing.  

-Build a transparent network of suppliers and manufacturers to not only ensure ethical production methods and sustainable practices, but establish both local and international communities that impact change in the industry.  

-Incite dialogues between maker and wearer to place fashion under a broader context than that of consumerism. Provide clothing that fulfils practical and emotional needs, making the following inquiries:  

How does clothing affect action, behaviour, and perception?

How is fashion correlated with identity and memory?

How can garments improve quality of life?

 -Develop new values and priorities that retrieve connection and mindfulness. Refer to slowness as a pace that favours the process and people behind an object, immersing ourselves in a more profound way of consumption:

Invest in pieces that resonate with us in an aesthetic, pragmatic, and conceptual way.

Inquire about the origin of the garment.

Care for our clothing with low impact practices and look to extend their utility.

Fashion is a dialogue between of two active parties: maker and wearer. The messages and conversations proposed by the designer and interpreted by the wearer in the way it is appropriated into his/her own existence (how the garment is styled using personal aesthetic codes and the memories it collects throughout wear) are what gives fashion its purpose beyond its practical use.   


Most of the life of a garment happens once it leaves the designer’s hands. The wearer completes the piece.

Likewise, the challenges and conversations around creating a garment are what make the product meaningful, a visual representation of a complex thought. ‘Slowness’ in design and consumption therefore provides a platform for communicating, exploring, and champion these concepts, ultimately empowering both brands and consumers to create positive change.  

Words and illustration by Elisa Medina

 References and further reading –

  • Writings by Dr Kate Fletcher, sustainability pioneer and design activist 
  • Slow Research Lab, multi-disciplinary platform for inquiries regarding living systems and relationships between mind/body, time, and space  
  • Vestoj Issue Five: On Slowness, academic writings, interviews, and visuals exploring relationships between fashion and time  
  • Professor Stuart Walker  Radical Design for Sustainability TEDx Talk illustrates how design can inherently facilitate mindful ways of being in the world