There’s been a lot of talk recently about the depressingly detrimental effects of fast fashion.
Eye-opening documentaries like Stacey Dooley’s ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ and ‘The True Cost’, produced by the brilliant Livia Firth and Lucy Siegle, have certainly done a great job in bringing this important issue to the fore.
My awareness actually began many years ago, when I worked as a buyer for high street fashion retailers. These companies’ modus operandi was to constantly mass-produce, and speedily turn around, different collections in order to keep up with the public’s demand for ever-changing catwalk-inspired looks and celebrity styles.
It was only after taking some time out to have my two girls that I was able to step back and see it all clearly. I became increasingly averse to the thought of returning to work and couldn’t help but feel that there must be another way.
Happily, it was this growing disillusion that inspired me to start The Small Home. I was convinced that people, once armed with the facts, would welcome a more meaningful brand – one that championed authenticity and offered an antidote to the modern-day mindset of disposability.
At The Small Home, we certainly don’t claim to be perfect, but as a proud, ethically-minded business, we’re always striving to play our part. Here, I just wanted to make the case for an alternative – for slower, more sustainable fashion - and to offer a few pointers for anyone wanting to make more conscious choices when it comes to what they wear.
Slow V Fast
Fast fashion may be cheap to buy – part of its very appeal - but the cost to the environment is countless - water pollution and excess consumption, the use of pesticides and toxic chemicals, with textile dyeing now the second largest polluter of clean water globally.
A lesser-known fact is that cheaper, manmade materials, such as polyester, shed plastic microfibers in washing machines that then seep into our oceans.
The demand for such a fast turnaround also fuels the damaging mindset that our clothing is disposable. One consequence of this is textile waste, as people buy more and more clothes and don’t keep them as long as they used to.
In contrast, slow fashion, as its name suggests, takes its time.
It takes the time, and the trouble, to ensure that any environmental impact is kept to an absolute minimum, to lovingly craft clothing that is made to last, and to ensure fairness for both consumers and producers.
So why not think about taking things a little slower in the fashion department? Consider second-hand and vintage, and when buying new, buy less and go for quality over quantity, because in this case, less is definitely more.
Informed by a favourite motto of mine: ‘buy once, buy best’, we, at The Small Home only bring out one capsule collection every year. It consists of forever pieces that are contemporary, but not subject to passing trends. Lovingly handmade, using natural materials traditionally crafted to last, my wish is for our clothing to be treasured as pieces that become even more beautiful with every wear.
Mindful V Mass-Produced
The ability to know more about the makers responsible for crafting the things you wear gives them the meaning and purpose that helps to defy those consumption trends that make our clothing feel as though it is disposable. It reconnects us to, and acknowledges, the contribution of fellow humans, and completes the life-cycle story of that garment.
These days, provenance is definitely becoming more important to people with regards to what they eat, but our consumption of, and attitude towards, fashion, is not quite there yet. I’m hopeful however, that as people begin to insist on knowing, and approving, the stories behind their clothing, the fashion industry will have to take notice and act.
Here at The Small Home we’re committed to supporting small, socially responsible makers keen to preserve traditional methods of craftsmanship that might otherwise be at risk of dying out.
The result is products with provenance, made by artisans with interesting stories to tell, and it’s these stories that give a meaning to our pieces that you can’t really put a value on.
Sustainable V Transient
Sustainability, when it comes to fashion, is the sum of many parts.
It’s an ethically-holistic approach to the development, production and selling of a garment. And for any piece of clothing that is deemed fit to hold that label, it means that great efforts have been taken to improve every stage of the clothing’s life cycle, from both an environmental and socio-economic respect.
When I sit down to create any of the designs for The Small Home’s collection, my starting point is always informed by what I hope the end result will be – that our pieces are ones that you’ll be reaching for again and again; season after season; year after year.
Linked to that, I always design with versatility and longevity in mind. As I touched on before, all our clothing is made from natural materials, crafted to last a lifetime. They’re anything but disposable. And the lovingly handmade nature of them also means that they’re more likely to be treated with the care and respect they deserve.
So there you have it. Despite the negatives, overall there are many reasons to be optimistic.
Like us, there are an increasing number of organisations that all share this same belief and are trying to spread the word to affect change. As Stacey Dooley, in ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’, quite rightly put it: “It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that we don’t know, we’re not informed.”
So I hope this journal piece has done the job of providing you with some food for thought and perhaps even set you on the way to thinking about a change in your buying behaviour.
Thanks so much for reading! x