Last year I sat back and watched from the sidelines as all the magic unfolded around Slow Fashion October and this year I vowed to take part a little more actively. I will probably still be a rather passive participant in terms of posts and comments, not because I'm not thinking about it and actively living the concepts of slow fashion, but because I am just so overwhelmed by all of my thoughts about everything that it entails and I don't feel like I'm totally capable of putting it all into words and expressing myself in a smart and productive way. I am the sort of person who doesn't chime in unless I'm confident about what I have to say. I know that I feel strongly about slow fashion, or maybe it's that I am strongly against fast fashion, but I also know that it's a complicated topic. I'm going to simplify things for myself and just talk about what I know and share my personal experiences with slow fashion.
So first, my introduction. Most of you who are reading this already know me and what I'm all about, but here I go! I'm Tanis, I'm 32 years old, I live in the suburbs of Montreal with my husband Chris, our 2 young sons and dog. Together with my husband I run our hand dyed yarn business, Tanis Fiber Arts, based out of our home. I am a maker. The high I get from making things from scratch is unbeatable.
For me, like for so many others, slow fashion isn't about being holier than thou and only buying expensive, hand made, organic, perfect, hemp tunics. Slow fashion is about reducing waste. I think that's the biggest thing for me. Less waste in production and less waste in terms of the life of the product. If I had to nail it down, I'd say that I'm more environmentally motivated. Yes, I care a lot about the human conditions involved in the production of the clothing I wear, but the environment affects all humans, everywhere. The environment and quality of life are inseparable. After watching the documentary The True Cost on Netflix I was literally moved to tears by the environmental conditions that innocent people in developing countries are forced to live in because of our Western addiction to fast fashion.
How does my family embrace a slow fashion lifestyle? Well, first of all I think it's worth mentioning that since Chris and I both work from home, it's pretty easy for us. Our jobs don't require a specific dress code and our lifestyle doesn't demand that we own multiple styles of clothing to suit all of the different types of "events" that we might attend. We're pretty much only dress "casual cute" (sometimes with more of an emphasis on casual than cute), which makes it easy to own fewer favourite pieces and to wear them all the time. We embraced slow food ages ago - we both worked in restaurants before embarking on this fiber life and our love of local, organic foods cooked into beautiful meals from scratch easily translates into an appreciation of thoughtfully handmade clothing.
And we are makers! So though I say that I we love thoughtfully handmade clothing, the truth is most of the thoughtfully handmade items we own were thoughtfully handmade by us! There are some things I can't/am not interested in making, and those things I buy and will admit to sometimes buying them at affordable and accessible places, and I think that's ok! As I type this I'm wearing my favourite turtleneck that I bought at Target ages ago and I can live with that. I've worn it for years and hope to wear it for years to come. I'm going to put it out there and say that I don't care as much about where you're buying your clothes as much as what you're doing with them once you've chosen to take responsibility for them. If you plan on wearing them for a season and then tossing them, I'll cringe, but if you have a favourite turtleneck from Target and by some miracle it lasts for years and years (because often times fast fashion brands are not made to last - but miraculously some items defy those rules) than I'm all for it.
Kids! When it comes to clothing for my boys I take the same approach as I do for clothing for myself. Buy less, wear it more and take care of it so it can be passed on when it no longer fits. The fact that I have 2 children of the same gender simplifies things. I won't get into it too much but I will say that I have a pretty strong bias against super gender specific clothing for tiny babies. Maybe it's because I have sons and have found that baby clothes shopping for them was a pretty lame experience. I focused on gender-neutral items, which there is a tremendous lack of in the baby-clothing industry. Items that could be worn by whatever subsequent babies I had, regardless of gender. As they grow that becomes harder because the fit is different and the fashion industry continues to hammer home the "boys only wear t-shirts with baseballs on them" ideology. My boys wear a lot of stripes and solids and yes, a lot of blue, but so do I (see photo above for proof!)
I think that it's also worth highlighting within the context of Slow Fashion October that it's so important to me that we're making the switch to our more environmentally friendly line of PureWash yarns. It can feel like a contradiction to say that I'm such a believer in slow fashion and then in the next line say "buy all my yarns to knit way more sweaters than you'll ever need!" but I believe that when you've thought about the yarns you're purchasing and you've put the hours into making yourself (or a loved one) an item with those yarns, that item will be treasured, cared for, and will live a long life. The fact that we are able to facilitate other people with handmade slow fashion ambitions is pretty awesome.
This is such a huge topic that I think about a lot and don't feel like I've even come close to scratching the surface on. I hope to continue to blog weekly with my take on each of the themes Karen has outlined for us. At the end of the day I guess I just want to put it out there that owning fewer items that you love means that you get to wear clothing that you love and feel good in every day and it's really not a sacrifice. I think that it's a misconception that slow fashion means giving something up, having less options. There are lots of ways to live mindfully and create less waste and feel really good about yourself while you're at it.