So, now that we've officially rolled into the month of November we can A) start getting excited about Christmas! and B) call Slow Fashion October a wrap. It's been a very interesting for me to spend an entire month somewhat focused on a single subject. It's not my usual blogging approach, I find it quite difficult to set up rules and timelines for myself like that. To be honest, it's not my preferred method of blogging, I'm more of a "write what I feel like writing about when I feel like writing about it" kinda blogger and have a hard time sticking to a blogging schedule. Regardless, Slow Fashion October was a fun exercise for me both in terms of blogging and in terms of sorting through my thoughts on a subject that I feel quite passionate about.
After having spent the month analyzing my decisions and chatting about how we can all contribute to Slow Fashion October I've come away with two conclusions.
The first is that as makers we are already way ahead of the game when it comes to slow fashion. I would argue that the fact that we know what it takes to make a garment and care for a garment means that we are less likely to purchase without thinking. We value our handmade items and care for them and some of that care and responsibility pours over into our ready to wear purchases as well. We're capable of mending and we know how to hand wash. There came a point, about mid-month, when it sort of hit me that going on about slow fashion on my blog to my audience of makers was basically preaching to the choir. It was kinda nice because it made me think of my Slow Fashion October posts as conversations I was having with like-minded people, but at the same time it started to feel like I was missing the mark since I can think of so many people who could really benefit from thinking about there own purchasing habits, people who have never considered slow fashion because they've never heard of it. Those people aren't reading knitting/crafting blogs and though I think that as a community we have a voice and probably more reach then I'm giving us credit for, the Slow Fashion October conversation has mostly been happening in the knitting/sewing world and we are not the problem.
My second takeaway speaks to the fact that within every movement there is an anti-movement, which is a weird way of saying that as soon as something becomes popular people will start to hate it and in this case I think that's missing the point. This relates back to my first takeaway, the fact that we are having this discussion as a group of makers and therefore there is definitely the inclination towards sweeping statements about all handmade wardrobes and knitting exclusively with expensive small batch farm yarns, but I don't think that's a reflection of the Slow Fashion movement as a whole. This is where it gets kinda tricky, Slow Fashion October is a term coined by Karen Templar and she has spearheaded and organized the whole month for us to chat about our slow fashion commitment. "Slow Fashion" is a movement all on it's own, not specific to any month, Karen just opted to choose October as our month to celebrate it. Slow fashion is for everyone and has nothing to do with wether or not you make your own clothes. You can buy brand new clothes, exclusively at fast fashion stores, but keep those clothes and care for them and pass them on (or be on the other end of the line and accept hand-me-downs) and be just as active a participant in Slow Fashion as any of us hand makers. I think that overall that point has been made and acknowledged a lot over the month, plenty of people sharing their self-portraits clothed in long worn, much loved hand-me-downs - in fact those are many of the more popular posts I've seen on Instagram, posts of items with a story - and the inclusive nature of the movement, the fact that we can all participate and make a difference in our own way, is what I choose to focus on.
And lastly, this whole month I've been thinking about this wonderful article by Emily Matcher called: Sorry, Etsy: That Handmade Scarf Won't Save The World. I love this article and feel like it relates back to my last point about the inclusivity of slow fashion and the most important part of the movement which is the part where we're trying to make a difference! This article makes too many good points to quote them all, but the one of my favourites is about the handmade toothbrush because that's just so funny to me!
Most believe that the economies of scale inherent in mass production outweigh the benefits of nearness. These same economies of scale most likely make a toothbrush factory less wasteful, in terms of materials, than 100 individual toothbrush makers each handcrafting 10 toothbrushes a day. An efficient toothbrush factory bound by strong environmental regulations would benefit everyone the most.
I think the reason why I like the points made by Emily in her article is because it argues for social change on a large scale rather than each of us individually opting out of a flawed fast fashion system only if we can afford to. We need to push large companies to make a big difference in a positive way. I choose to continue to support large brands that are making good decisions in an effort to encourage them to do more of that. Buying small, buying local, buying handmade is all good, but if we're really trying to save the world (and we all are, right!?) then we can't only think small, we need to think outside of our tiny bubbles and go big!