A complete guide to sustainable and slow fashion

Complete Guide To Slow Fashion And How To Shop More Sustainable

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The fashion industry has long served as a powerful expression of culture and self-identity, leaving an indelible mark on societies throughout history. From ancient civilizations to modern-day cultures, fashion has continually evolved, reflecting shifting trends and paradigms.

However, the landscape of garment production has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent times. What was once a craft of artistry and tradition has morphed into a soulless machine of mass production, fueled by the constant demand for low-cost, fast fashion.

In this article, we’ll delve into the negative effects of fast fashion on both the environment and society. We’ll also discuss the concepts of sustainable fashion, and the slow fashion movement and provide practical tips on how to transition to it seamlessly and as easily as possible to a new way of fashion consumption. By understanding the benefits of sustainable fashion and finding sustainable materials to look for, we can take steps towards a more ethical and environmentally-conscious approach to clothing consumption. 

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Slow Fashion vs Fast Fashion

According to Cambridge dictionary fast fashion is an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.

So, fast fashion is an extremely lucrative business that makes everything to make consumers crave new cheap, poorly made garments in their wardrobes at least a few times a year. Some fast fashion giants update their collection as much as once every two weeks nowadays, and some notorious brands are putting in new garments every day.

The majority of these pieces have bad quality and do not correspond with your consumer needs to serve you for at least a few seasons before you throw them away, it cannot organically decompose in a landfill.

Slow fashion as comes from the name itself is a completely different approach to fashion. The terms “slow fashion”, “sustainable fashion” and “ethical fashion” may have minor differences but we can use them as synonyms. According to the Cambridge dictionary the term “sustainable” means something that causing, or is made in a way that causes, little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time. So slow fashion and sustainable fashion essentially mean the same thing.

It is an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion garments in a way that has little to no damage to the environment and was created to serve you for a long time. Clothing that was not created to rip off as soon as possible so you have to change it fast with the garment.

Opting for sustainable fashion clothing is freeing yourself from the constant fast fashion consumption trap that fast fashion brands have put us in. In the long run, buying slow-fashion garments is an actual way to do shopping on a budget, it doesn’t have as much of an impact on the environment. In a lot of sense, slow fashion is a win-win for everybody. Well, unless it is a fast fashion brand.

The Differences Between Fast Fashion and Sustainable Fashion

Production Methods

Fast fashion is known for its enormous mass production and very quick turnaround times. That kind of production unfortunately often leads to poor working conditions and exploitation of labor. Every business takes into consideration every expense to put it in the final price of the product.

That 20-dollar blouse in a fast fashion shop includes also the labor of someone severely underpaid for the insane amount of job that they do every day. Fast fashion is surrounded by a lot of conversations around the ethics that those fast fashion companies practice.

How to stop fast fashion? Unfortunately, the only actionable thing that we can do to stop those inhumane business practices is to switch to slow fashion brands and stop contributing financially to fast fashion brands.

Slow fashion brands prioritize small-scale production with a focus on craftsmanship and quality. The sustainable fashion industry provides its workers with fair wages and ethical labor practices.

Supply Chain Methods

Fast fashion normally has extremely long complex supply chains spanning multiple countries that contribute to the poor ecological situation on the planet. To cut the cost of your next fast fashion skirt those businesses tend to use some questionable unsustainable practices. 

Slow fashion brands have shorter, more transparent supply chains with direct relationships between producers and consumers.

Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion and Sustainable Fashion

Fast Fashion has high levels of resource consumption, including water and energy. Also, pollution from chemical dyes and textile waste contributes to environmental degradation.

Slow fashion brands make actionable efforts to lower their environmental footprint due to reduced production volumes and the use of sustainable materials. Due to less amount of garments they produce, they save a lot of energy and water.

They also have specific ways to optimize the levels of resources they use to make their garments. Sustainable fashion brands often implement eco-friendly practices such as recycling, upcycling, and the use of natural fabrics that easily decompose after being thrown away by a consumer.

Social Impacts of Fast Fashion

The way our clothes are produced has an impact not only on the environment but also on ourselves as a society.

Fast fashion brands contribute to the exploitation of garment workers in factories, often in developing countries. Terrible working conditions and low wages contribute to human rights violations.

On the other hand, sustainable brands support fair labor practices and empowerment of local artisans and communities.

Pros and Cons of Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion?

Fast fashion is affordable, provides an great variety of options to choose from, and lets you follow the latest trends easily. It is convenient, it can fulfill your need for new emotions for very little time. But at what cost does fast fashion provide us with all these pros? 

What is the impact of fast fashion on consumers? The big problem is that fast brands are exactly what is responsible for your constant need to change your clothes regularly. In the last 30 years, it has become a necessity for people to have big wardrobes filled with clothes that they barely even wore a couple of times.

They are exactly the ones who tell you that you need to follow trends, they are exactly the ones who create those trends and fill you with a deep scarcity about missing something out. Unnecessary shopping has become a seance of therapy for people. Yet, it rarely helps them to fill the hole that is a craving for emotions and experiences. Shopping for cheap garments has become a surrogate for feelings. And with online shops and e-commerce, it has become easier than ever. 

Benefits of Slow Fashion

Sustainable fashion brands emphasize the idea that you don’t need to shop every season. They push the idea that you should invest in an ethically made, good-quality wardrobe that works for your body, and own clothes that are going to serve you for at least a few years. Own the clothes that are always in fashion, they teach us to rely less on trends and what’s going on around us, they teach us to find what works for OUR body type, and our physique and stick to it. They never use scarcity tactics. 

Slow fashion embraces the principles of the circular economy by designing garments for longevity, repairability, and recyclability. By encouraging consumers to repair, reuse, and recycle clothing, slow fashion minimizes waste and promotes a more sustainable approach to consumption.

Sustainable fashion brands prioritize transparency and accountability by providing information about their supply chain, production processes, and sourcing practices. This transparency allows consumers to make informed choices and hold brands accountable for their social and environmental impact.

Sustainable fashion companies prioritize using sustainably sourced fabrics, such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and recycled fabrics. These natural fibres are produced using eco-friendly methods that minimize resource consumption, reduce pollution, and promote biodiversity.

Sustainable Fabrics in Fashion: Natural Fabrics

The base of sustainable fashion is using natural fabrics. What are natural fabrics made from? Natural fabrics are made of natural fibers. The definition of natural fabric is any hairlike raw material directly obtainable from an animal, vegetable, or mineral source found in nature. Fabrics made with natural fibers decompose within a few years in a landfill. Depending on a specific fabric it will last you different times and require special care. Here’s the list of natural fabrics:

Cotton is one of the most widely used natural fibers and is derived from the fluffy fibers surrounding the seeds of the cotton plant. It is soft, breathable, and versatile, making it suitable for a wide range of clothing items.

Linen Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant and is known for its durability, moisture-wicking properties, and crisp texture. It is commonly used for shirts, pants, and bedding.

Wool is a natural fiber derived from the fleece of sheep or other animals such as goats (cashmere and mohair), rabbits (angora), and alpacas. It is known for its warmth, insulation, and moisture-wicking properties.

Silk is a luxurious natural fiber produced by silkworms to create their cocoons. It is known for its smooth, lustrous texture and is commonly used for high-end clothing items such as dresses, blouses, and scarves.

Hemp is a versatile plant fiber. It is known for its strength, durability, and environmental sustainability. Hemp fabric is often used for eco-friendly clothing, accessories, and home textiles.

Bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of bamboo plants and is known for its softness, breathability, and antibacterial properties. It is often used for activewear, underwear, and bedding.

Ramie is a natural fiber derived from the stem of the ramie plant. It is similar to linen in appearance and properties, with a silky luster and excellent strength.

Jute is a natural fiber derived from the jute plant’s stem and is commonly used to make burlap and other coarse textiles. It is durable, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly.

Natural vs Synthetic Fabrics

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Natural fabrics have multiple advantages over artificial fabrics. First and probably the most important one, they are normally very comfortable on the skin. In the summertime wearing fabrics like silk, cotton, linen, and hemp is the best thing that you can do against summer heat. Those fabrics are breathable fabrics which is so important during the summer.

Wearing synthetics in summer will make you suffer. Wearing synthetics during the summer heat is like wearing a plastic bag all over your body. Feels nasty, your skin barely breathes, you sweat and the overall experience is just bad. Wearing natural warm materials provides you with warmth that you would never experience wearing a synthetic sweater.

Wool, alpaca, cashmere, mohair, and camel hair are considered to be the warmest natural fabrics. They provide you with exceptional insulation properties and promise you the most comfortable and warm winter. Of course, advantages come with the special care you need to take to make sure your natural fabric garment lasts long.

Synthetic fibers were created by the manufacturers to overcome the disadvantages of natural fabrics. Synthetics were created to outlast natural fabrics. Instead, what happened, is that their durability now is a reason why our landfills are stocked with clothes that will stay they for 500 years. Today, the durability of fabric has nothing to do with the actual quality of a garment.

Another advantage of synthetics is that some of them, like viscose, are wrinkle-proof. I honestly don’t see a reason to pollute the planet and fill it with nondegradable garments made of plastic everywhere just to skip the ironing. Those are very questionable priorities, let us put it straight. Other examples of synthetic fabrics include polyester, nylon, acrylic, polypropylene, spandex and rayon.

And sure enough, you know that synthetics are normally way cheaper than garments made of natural fabrics. Well, if you count every piece of clothing that you wore 2 times in your life and then thrown away, the cost of single-use is insanely high. So, budgeting is not what people normally do when they buy multiple pieces of fast fashion brands. They don’t want you to make economies. They want you to buy something very cheap to make and buy it again in 3 months.

Now, let’s discuss tips and little mental tricks you can do that will help you transition to sustainable fashion easily.

Tips for Sustainable Clothes Shopping: Making Ethical Fashion Choices

1. Go slow

If you read this article and feel inspired to throw away half of your wardrobe and go do some shopping with a slow fashion brand… Please, don’t throw away perfectly functioning pieces just because they are made of polyester and are fast fashion pieces. Buying slow fashion clothes just so you can get rid of “the bad” ones from your wardrobe is not a solution. Make sure, you use everything you have in your wardrobe right now to its max capacity.

If there’s something that doesn’t work for you right now, and just takes a lot of space, donate it or try to participate in your local clothes swaps. There are always people who can find use for something that doesn’t work for you anymore. Don’t contribute to the landfills full of fast fashion garments that were not even worn 10 times. We already have enough to deal with as a humanity. 

2. Try to Find Your Style

Trendy clothing is not always something that makes you look your best. Consider finding your perfect style, there are tons of resources available on the net that teach exactly that. This way you will know what to seek for next time you need a new piece of clothing. This is going to free you from this illusion of running for trends constantly. This way scarcity created by fast fashion brands will go away. You will feel enough with what have now. 

3. Change Your Wardrobe One Garment at a Time

Gradually change pieces in your wardrobe with sustainable fashion garments when old ones are not in the best shape anymore, torn, etc. Don’t put this immense pressure on yourself. No, you don’t need to change your whole wardrobe in one shopping sprint. Do it slowly, take your time, and make sure you are not putting yourself in a financially strained position. 

4. Learn How to Take Proper Care of Your Sustainable Clothes

Learn your sustainable garments. Make sure to read the labels of your new sustainable pieces. What we are doing right here is investing in a quality wardrobe that is going to last. So, to make sure it lasts, read the labels to know how to take the proper care of it.  Learn the way you can make your item serve you the amount of time it was intended by the sustainable manufacturer. After some time taking proper care of your ethical clothing becomes extremely easy as it becomes your second nature.

5. Don’t Use Shopping As a Way to Feel Emotions

To avoid making shopping a hobby, find a way to experience those emotions you get in a shop buying a new cute piece of clothing elsewhere. Learn to get excited about things and daily experiences you have, spend more time in nature, and regulate your nervous system. With this approach, you will be able to stop the hormonal cocktail that compels you to spend and buy all the time to feel something. Find satisfaction not in tangible things.

I am writing this blog post with at least half of my wardrobe still filled with fast fashion items. And I am slowly changing the items I have as soon as they are not functional anymore. I want you to hear me out again. Be kind to yourself, and don’t turn switching to a sustainable fashion a race.

Adapt new beliefs and try to implement new actions into your life slowly. It is a path and it is not about being perfect. Don’t be an all-or-nothing person, that way, the transition will not happen, You just will strain yourself and go back to the old way of consumption. 


In this article we discussed fast fashion and its multiple detrimental effects on the environment and society, we learned what what is sustainable fashion and what it stands for. We tackled natural fabrics that are a base of slow fashion and how to choose the right sustainable garments. I shared my tips and tricks on how to switch to a sustainable fashion more efficiently. It is definitely in our power to implement some ethical practices bit by bit!

Hope you feel inspired to slowly make changes in your consumer habits and the way you see fashion in general. I encourage you to continue your journey with slow fashion and sustainable living in general.

Later in the article, you will see books and resources I recommend to deepen your knowledge of the topic so you can be sure you make informed decisions about the way you consume! I look forward to hearing about your experiences and insights as you embrace slow fashion and sustainable living. Together, we can make a positive impact on the world around us.

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Sustainable Fashion Books and Other Resources

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline

Elizabeth L. Cline’s “Overdressed” delves deep into the alarming consequences of the fast fashion industry, shedding light on the environmental degradation and exploitative labor practices hidden behind our obsession with low-cost clothing. Through meticulous research and personal narratives, Cline advocates for a shift towards sustainable fashion choices and consumer consciousness.


  • “The True Cost”

  • “River Blue”

  • “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”


  • “Wardrobe Crisis” by Clare Press

  • “Conscious Chatter” by Kestrel Jenkins

  • “Fashion Revolution Podcast” by Fashion Revolution

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