Slow Fashion can mean many things: a timeless or flexible cut that means you can wear it for longer; the use of high-quality and/or environmentally-sensitive fabrics, and socially- and environmentally-sensitive production techniques; buying vintage or swapping with friends; incorporating local crafting traditions into the design, or using local labour for the manufacture; making, embellishing, or mending your clothes yourself; or having your clothes custom-tailored (or knit or crocheted). Essentially it involves taking the principles of slow design and applying them to your closet.
Lots of people are blogging about their slow fashion resolutions, which have been dubbed 'fashion diets'. Kim at Preloved Reloved (via the Jorg & Olif blog) is going to buy only second-hand clothes for a year. Participants in Six Items Or Less are blogging about whittling down to, and living with, only 6 items of clothing for a month. Participants in The Great American Apparel Diet are not buying new clothes (but are allowed new accessories and gifted items) for a year; Australian blogger Kate from Fashion Fasting tackled the same challenge last year. Participants in Project 333 wear 33 items or less for a 3-month period. I'm sure there are many more individual bloggers I haven't discovered yet, since fashion diets and fasts have become popular enough that the idea has been covered by Trend Central and the New York Times. (Please, feel free to mention anyone I've missed in the comments!)
Perhaps the best-known fashion fast involves something most women already have in their closet: the essential Little Black Dress first designed by Coco Chanel. In year 1 of the Uniform Project, Sheena Matheiken wore a single versatile LBD (well, 7 copies of it) every day for a whole year, styled to create hundreds of different looks using only items that were already in her closet, or donated items that were either vintage or handmade. She was inspired, in part, by how kids who wear school uniforms always manage to find an inventive way to make the look their own - and she used the project as an inventive fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation, who educate children living in slums in the Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai and are co-organizers of the InspirED conference on innovation in education for India (I highly recommend that you check out Sheena's TEDxDubai talk - hugely inspiring stuff.). Now that Sheena's year in the LBD is done, the Uniform Project has moved on to one-month Pilots where people wear one outfit for a month to fundraise for a cause of their choice, with the new outfit design (mostly LBDs, but also a jumper and a two-piece suit, so far) being sold on the site. They also sell a new version (tweaked for fit) of the dress that Sheena wore (and a sewing pattern for it). That is also the dress that One Dress Protest's Kristy Powell is wearing (without accessories) this year; Kristy's year in an LBD also differs from Sheena's in that instead of posting daily fashion photos, she's blogging about her thoughts and peoples' reactions to the sociological and philosophical implications of the project.
Meanwhile the designer of the original version of the Uniform Project dress (Eliza Starbuck) also is selling it as part of her capsule collection through her Bright Young Things website, and profiling buyers who are doing one-month Wear-a-thons.
You don't have to go on a full-on fashion fast to take a slow fashion approach to your wardrobe, though. Start simply, by going through your closet, keeping the stuff that fits well and makes you feel great, donating what you never ever wear, and thinking differently about what you buy. (Recent stories in UK newspaper the Daily Mail suggest that the average woman has 22 things in her wardrobe that she never wears, 12 of which don't fit. Wow.). I think the advice for creating a timeless capsule wardrobe in these two posts is a fantastic place to start (boys, try this link instead).
Inspired by what Sheena of the Uniform Project has done, a friend (hi Asia!) and I planning a ladies-only fundraiser tweetup where everyone shops their closet, and wears a basic black outfit, accessorized creatively to showcase their personalities. W
I'm also following my own advice and cleaning out my closet, and plotting which fashion diet to join. The prospect of using a big purge and one-month-or-more challenge to help define my personal style and explore my relationship to fashion and consumerism is really exciting!