What is Slow Fashion | DoneGood

Slow Fashion: What It Is & Why It Matters

Maybe you're used to the term "fast fashion" by now. You know what fast fashion is, how to identify it, and why fast fashion should generally be avoided. But what are you supposed to do if you want to buy from non fast fashion brands?

A lesser-known movement, but one that's gaining traction, is fast fashion's counterpart, slow fashion. The term "slow fashion" is used to describe brands, garment makers, and consumers who are taking a more conscientious path to clothes-making and purchasing. And if you're trying your hand at ethical shopping, slow fashion might be a concept you want to familiarize yourself with. In this blog we'll answer some important questions like:


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    What Is Slow Fashion?

    Slow fashion, put simply, is the opposite of fast fashion. It's a philosophy of clothing production that focuses on labor and environmental ethics to produce high-quality clothes that last. Instead of letting unrealistic deadlines and prices dictate how people and the planet are treated (fast fashion), slow fashion starts from the goal of how clothing should be produced and creates clothes based on quality, fair labor, and eco-friendly practices. 

    The slow fashion definition can be summed up with the common maxim: "buy less, choose well, make it last." At its simplest, this is what slow fashion is. Purposefully cutting down on unnecessary clothing production and purchasing, choosing higher-quality, timeless pieces over of-the-moment trends, and taking care of our clothes, repairing them when necessary, and loving them for years. 

    What Are the Characteristics of Slow Fashion?

    We've talked about the ideological concepts up till now, but practically, what does slow fashion look like? How would you recognize a slow fashion brand or piece of clothing in the wild?

    In general, slow fashion brands will meet many/all of these characteristics:

    • Release yearly or seasonal (instead of weekly or monthly) clothing lines
    • Detail their philosophy, practices, guidelines, and protocols on garment manufacturing, fabric quality, labor rights, environmental ethics and more
    • Use high-quality or sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, tencel, bamboo, hemp, or recycled fabrics
    • Are certified by ethical certifiers like Fair Trade, GOTS, etc.
    • Have classic, timeless looks that will not go "out of style" next year

    When Did the Slow Fashion Movement Start?

    Slow fashion was the only way clothes were produced for most of history. People made their own clothes. They chose classic designs and high-quality fabrics because they didn't want to spend all their time sewing! So the slow fashion "movement" is actually just a move back to the way things used to be. 

    Fast Fashion came about as a result of the industrial revolution in the late 1800's. It became a way of life in the 60's and 70's with major retailers like H&M and Zara, reached its modern state in the 90's, and has only gotten faster, cheaper, and more overabundant since. 

    The move back to slow fashion has coincided with the big dates in fast fashion. So for the past few decades consumers, entrepreneurs, and business owners have decided to revolt against the "more at any cost" mindset. In those couple of decades, hundreds and thousands of passionate and dedicated individuals have started brands and businesses to make slow fashion products available to consumers.

    What is the Difference Between Slow Fashion and Fast Fashion

    As their names suggest, fast fashion and slow fashion couldn't be more opposite. In approach, philosophy, and finished product, slow and fast fashion differ entirely. 

    Why Slow Fashion Matters  

    So why is any of this important? A slow fashion mindset and practices do good in so many ways! Just a few ways that slow fashion is better than the alternative...

    Better on workers: Buying slow fashion instead of fast fashion diverts money away from brands who are treating their workers poorly and toward businesses who provide their employees with fair wages and safe working conditions. This makes a difference on two levels. For one, you, as an individual, are making an impact. You buying that dress is actually providing safe and dignified work for a person who might otherwise be in danger of being exploited and mistreated. You are literally changing someone's life across the globe!

    And on a mass/movement level, our collective actions are sending a message to bigger brands. When enough consumers support ethical businesses instead of corporate giants, those giants start to notice. And when they notice enough, they'll start to change their business practices to do better.

    Better on the environment: Buying from brands that go zero waste, save water, use sustainable fabrics, recycle old water bottles into yoga pants, and neutralize their carbon footprint makes a difference for our planet. And just like the labor implications above, when big brands realize that this stuff is important to consumers (important enough that we change our buying habits), they'll start to change how they do things!

    Better for you: By encouraging us to slow down and think conscientiously about what we're wearing, slow fashion increases the joy and intentionality that comes with our clothes. It pulls us out of disposable society and the "more" mindset. This also saves us money in the long run. While an individual slow fashion piece might cost more than its fast fashion counterpart, when we buy less and wear longer, we'll end up saving money over time. Finally, since slow fashion brands are concerned about the quality of the fabrics they're using, we're more likely to have higher quality garments that last longer, and less likely to have toxins in our clothes!


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    15 Slow Fashion Brands to Know

    Looking for some slow fashion brands to support now? Finding clothes (and more!) that do good for people and the planet is our speciality. Below are some DoneGood approved brands that we think will help you find clothes you'll love for years to come: 

     1. Patagonia

    Trailblazers for good, Patagonia, is a B Corp, helped found 1% for the Planet, and now they're working to strengthen the fair trade movement. Their gear is made to last, if it breaks they fix it—that means less stuff produced and in landfills. They're one of the few big players we trust!


    Comfy, versatile, small-batch clothing—ethically-made in Toronto with sustainable business practices like eco-friendly fabrics and upcycled materials. Founder Kristi and the Encircled team are true champions of the Slow Fashion movement and create timeless and multi-use pieces perfect for a capsule wardrobe!

    3. Majamas Earth

    Eco-friendly, fair fashion for men, women and kids. Majamas Earth uses sustainable fabrics and low impact production while giving back to those in need. They make sure all their products are made in the USA, close to home so they can keep they keep their business practices as ethical as possible! 

     4. Pact Apparel

    High-quality organic, GMO-free, sweatshop-free clothes for men, women, and kids. Their seasonal lines strike the perfect balance between of-the-moment clothes that look stylish, and timeless pieces that you'll love for years. You'll feel good because the stuff is super soft, and because you know the clothes on your back are supporting workers and preserving the environment. 

    5. Anntarah

    Timeless, quality men’s, women’s, and children's pieces proudly made from alpaca and other natural fibers. Anntarah is proud to honor ancient Peruvian textile tradition and lift up the community in the process. They work with local Peruvian women, honor their knowledge, and pay fair wages to handcraft beautiful basics. 

    6. Mata Traders

    Design-driven, fair trade apparel and accessories helping to end global poverty and empower women artisans in India and Nepal. With every purchase of their colorful designs, you empower these female artisans with economic independence, help them send their kids to school, lift up communities with jobs and healthcare, and preserve ancient artisanal traditions.

    7. Echo Verde

    Eco, organic, and beautiful—woman-owned Echo Verde is passionate about making ethical clothing affordable to all. Based in Canada, Echo Verde believes in keeping good relationships with their local suppliers, paying fair wages to their employees, and using natural, organic materials. 

    8. ABLE

    ABLE was founded to create an opportunity for women to be empowered to start a new life. Now providing pathways out of poverty for women across the developing world, and in Nashville, TN, ABLE offers denim, bags, shoes, and other basics for women! They also publish the wages they pay all their employees—for really radical transparency!

     9. Maggie's Organics  

    From farm to finished products, all of Maggie's Organics products are fair trade and—like the name implies—GOTS certified organic. A longtime player in the sustainable fashion game, Maggie's Organics has been showing kindness to people and the planet for over 25 years through their apparel. 

    10. Maven Women  

    Maven Women wants women to feel their best—it's at the heart of everything they do! That's why they design apparel to fit and flatter a wide range of body types in collaboration with customers directly. Their high-quality, ethical and elegant day-to-evening attire honors people and the planet through fair labor, organic fabrics, and vegan and cruelty-free processes.

    11. Passion Lilie

    Passion Lilie offers unique and funky looks with a global impact. Their vintage and retro men's and women's styles are designed in New Orleans and handmade by women in India with cultural hand-block printing and hand-weaving techniques. The makers are all paid a living wage in a great work environment and take great pride in their work.

    12. Symbology

    Unique and timeless pieces that you’ll love and treasure for years to come. All Symbology's clothing is ethically handcrafted by female artists from India and the West Bank who use cultural printing and dyeing techniques in each garment. And beyond just doing good for the women who make their clothes, Symbology does good for the women who wear their clothes! They value diversity and inclusivity, offering plus sizes and utilizing models from all different backgrounds.

    13. Vustra

    For guys wanting to up their style game, Vustra’s got you covered! They’ve got high-quality, well-designed dress shirts for men, built to last with classic looks that never go out of style! Committed to slow and sustainable fashion, Vustra's shirts are also fair trade, organic, toxin-free. and give back 25% of each purchase to worthy charities.  

    14. Yoga Democracy

    Vibrant, colorful activewear ethically-made in the USA. All their designs are made from 95% recycled materials (mostly water bottles)! Yoga Democracy is crazy about conservation—they save water, go zero waste, and even offer a free hemming service to make sure customers keep their leggings for a long time!

    15. DoneGood

    OK, so DoneGood isn't exactly a slow fashion brand. We're a marketplace where you can find dozens of brands that are doing things ethically and sustainable—brands like all the ones above. When you shop DoneGood, you'll find thousands of products that were all made with free and fair labor and eco-friendly practices with slow fashion principles. 

    We're all about trying to make ethical shopping and slow fashion as convenient, affordable, and stress-free as possible! Check out our collection of women's, men's and kids' clothes to get started! And find out more about us here!


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    How to Buy Slow Fashion

    It is possible to find high-quality clothes that are good for the people who make them, for the planet, and for you! Lots of passionate and talented individuals and brands are working to make clothes you love that are all also intentionally designed. DoneGood is here to help you find those brands and great clothes that you'll wear for years to come. 

    The good news is that that means you don't have to spend hours on end researching brands and companies to sift out who's slow fashion and who's not. All the products on DoneGood have been pre-vetted to make sure they're meeting slow fashion principles like using fair labor, eco-friendly practices, and are made to be kept and not thrown away.

    Of course, there are lots of slow fashion brands out there that aren't on DoneGood, so if you're shopping around, look for brands and products that talk about their sustainability and have certifications, stats, and data to back up their claims. And as a general rule, if the price of an item seems to good to be true, it probably is! Someone, somewhere is paying the cost, and if it's not us, it's probably the person who made it.

     Making the switch to slow fashion isn't complicated. Remember "buy less, choose well, make it last"? Keep those three things in mind and you're well on your way to a sustainable wardrobe that's better for other people, the planet, and you.

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