If there’s one thing I learned from the incredible experience that was Slow Fashion October last year (barely glimpsed in the pics above), it’s that it’s an even more complicated conversation than I realized — and I knew it was complicated! But it is, plainly, a hard one to talk about. It’s hard even to say what “slow fashion” is, as it’s different for every person. I don’t think it’s at all important to agree on either a definition or a list of shoulds or musts or don’ts. What’s important is having the big messy beautiful discussion — right out in public — and getting each other thinking. So, difficult or not, bring it on! I couldn’t be more excited for season two.
Last year I set up a framework of loose weekly themes to give the discussion a tiny bit of structure (Small, Loved, Worn and Known). I liked the theme approach, and think you all did too, but I feel like they were so loose that some of what seemed obvious to me actually seemed non-existent to others. Such as the fact that the conversation is not just about handmade — it’s about all the ways (and reasons!) we can approach a slow-fashion wardrobe. When I first created the @slowfashionoctober Instagram account last year and had to reduce the idea to one sentence for the profile, I wrote:
A celebration of the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe.
I thought that was pretty good! And I still think looking at it from all of those angles is key. So for this year’s themes, I’m making them slightly more specific to (what I see as) the primary facets of slow fashion. Here goes:
Week 1, Oct 1-9: INTRODUCTIONS
Who are you, and what does slow fashion mean to you. What got you started thinking about it — people, books, films, etc. Are your concerns environmental, humanitarian, financial? Most important: How does your thinking factor into your life and closet. Also, any special plans or projects for Slotober, and what are you hoping to get out of it?
+ My Slotober project for 2016
+ Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 1
Week 2, Oct 10-16: LONG-WORN
How can we make the most of the clothes already on the planet — from taking care of and mending and wearing things longer, to thrifting, swapping, heirlooms, hand-me-downs, alterations and refashioning.
+ 21st-century thrifting: On the hunt for Dries Van Noten
+ My week in the Craftlands
+ Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 2
Week 3, Oct 17-23: HANDMADE
How do you understand your style, choose projects well, advance your skills, get the right fit, and keep things interesting and long-lasting at the same time. What are your go-to patterns and most successful garments. How do you avoid mindless acquisition of yarn and fabric, or making “too much.” How do you make time and space for making — and why?
+ Why I make my clothes
+ Walking a mile in self-made shoes
+ Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 3
Week 4, Oct 24-31: KNOWN ORIGINS
Good (especially good and affordable) sources of yarn and fabric with traceable origins. And for the things we buy, favorite sources: from small-batch designer-producers to fashion companies trying to do the right thing in a transparent way.
+ How much can we know about where clothes come from?
+ Is it more expensive to make your own clothes?
Two issues came up in the past few days’ discussion on IG that I especially want to encourage anyone with knowledge or advice to weigh in on along the way: 1) the challenge of kids and fast fashion, and 2) plus-size options, both in terms of patterns and ready-to-wear.
So, just like last year, this is a framework that you can choose to use or ignore as you like, but it’s here if it’s helpful. I think this year I’m also going to post regular (daily?) questions along the way that you can either respond to in the comments or use as a prompt for a post of your own. Maybe you respond to one a week or maybe all of them — totally and completely up to you.
There is no right or expected way to participate — chime in wherever and however and as frequently or infrequently as suits you. If you’re posting on your blog, use pingbacks or leave links in the comments on my posts here so people can see what you’re writing. On social media, use hashtag #slowfashionoctober to contribute and follow along. And I hope you’ll also strike up the conversation in your 3-dimensional world throughout the month.
The most important thing I can emphasize is this isn’t about judgment. We all have different opinions and resources and time and wishes and skills — we are each on our own path. Like I said at the start of this post, what matters is just to be talking and thinking about it, and doing whatever is desirable and possible for you.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
PREVIOUSLY: Slow Fashion October 2015
Pictured are some of the contributions from last year that got highlighted in the @slowfashionoctober feed: top left, top right, middle left, middle right, bottom left, bottom right
This sounds like a well thought out year. And I do hope people with ideas or help will speak up. I know I find it frustrating, when I have a fitting problem, but just don’t know what the fix is. Or where to find sources, for things I would like to incorporate into my wardrobe making. I’m looking foward to this event.
I remember Slow Fashion October from last year and really enjoyed it. This year’s set up looks great.
Week 2 &4 I’m looking forward to.
How can you keep something from looking too bagladyish so that you don’t have buy something new? Also finding quality materials for the start of a project so that it lasts.
another thing I’d like to talk about is sourcing materials – I have a lot of information about yarn from FA but I don’t know where to look for specialty sewing supplies and fabric (but maybe this is bc I’m getting a little too niche for even the small businesses in my area)
Yes, me too. I want to find a source for quality (and reasonably stylish) apparel fabrics, and I don’t even know where to start looking. Help!
I’m looking for lingerie elastic that isn’t…….you know…waist band elastic or cheap FOE. “lingerie elastic” on etsy looks like mass produced stuff that doesn’t excite me either.
There are some good lists of sustainable/traceable fabric sources (including one on my blog) in one of the posts from the end of Slotober last year: https://fringeassociation.com/2015/10/30/elsewhere-slotober-edition-4/
Having just come upon the term Slow Fasion, I now have a name for some of the things I have done all my life. I darn socks, turn collars, cut up old flannel nighties for rags, remake t shirts, and replace zippers, a job I absolutely hate! I take sweaters apart to knit scarves for the homeless and cut the bottom of socks off (the ones thatihavealready darned one or twice) to make arm warmers. Thank you for giving my , call it hobby, a name.
Not only a name, but also a dignity and respect for all your work and care!
I like that you mentioned fast fashion and kids. While I am always hoping to get a size or two smaller, I can afford to buy quality, known-source, ethically produced items because I can always have them altered. My height won’t change. Shoes are forever, pretty much.
Kids, on the other hand, can grow incredibly fast and also wear out clothes with astonishing rapidity, so the temptation of buying “disposable” clothes and shoes for them is very real. I do get hand-me-downs for my daughter from a neighbor, and I pass her clothes on to another neighbor, but my son gets only new clothes (not for lack of trying). One season’s wear is all I can get, though lately I’ve taken to buying larger size pants and shorts with adjustable waistbands- this seems to yield 2 seasons of wear. It is still a challenge.
Looking forward to October and some good discussion!
I would like to cultivate the mindset that when it comes to quality “less is more”. With so much media we can get bombarded with “I wanna have it now” mentality.
Still hanging on to some things from my old life, working in a professional setting, I really need to donate and rethink what I have. I have a great desire to “go slow.”
I’ve learned so much things about my wardrobe last year, it was an interesting awareness! This year, I look forward to see where I am, where I can still do better! Thank you for this wonderful time to share, discover, think!
I feel the same, Marie!
I would love to explore ways to refashion some of the sweaters that I made many years ago…I have trouble giving away things that took so much time and money to knit!
I really want to try and participate this year. Last yeat was tough for many reasons, but this year it seems this theme resonates more deeply. Thanks for the roadmap, looking forward to joining the conversation.
Thanks for hosting again, I’m looking forward to participating this year. The comments are also very thought-provoking and intelligent, which is a great conversation to be part of! I’ve recently jotted down some thoughts on making and mending – http://tailoringtales.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/mending-saving-waste-thoughts-on-making.html
so excited! this is my favorite way to get/make new clothes. i hate shopping! so i can’t wait to see and read about what others do to avoid clothes shopping and fast fashion!
I’m looking forward to the discussions. I’m glad to see that the challenge of kids and fast fashion is something others want to discuss. I have a 15 year old, who can appreciate slow fashion on a theoretical level, but finds it hard to apply.
looking forward to participating!
I’m excited for this too. A couple of other things I always think about in this context:
1. Money. I’d love to see people talk with more specificity and honesty about how much they spend, and how much it makes sense to spend, on clothing (including when we make our own). I spend a LOT more than the average American, and on some levels I feel good about it (when I am buying things that cost more because they are made with fairly compensated labor, for example). I am also privileged to be able to do this because I am a single person with no dependents and a relatively high salary. But sometimes I feel guilt about it too. Anyway, what I’d like is just less obfuscation and more clarity from everyone involved in the discussion of this topic–it seems like we all pay a lot of lip service to the idea that buying less, of better quality, is a good thing, but I’m really interested in something more like “I spend XX percent of my income on clothing and this is why.”
2. A lot of “sustainable” fashion, especially retail stuff, is starting to look a little homogeneous to me. Sometimes I feel like there are way too many grey linen rectangles with head holes cut into them being marketed to me for $300, haha. There’s nothing wrong with this look! It’s lovely. But it seems like there’s a huge vacuum for those of us who want ethically made clothing, or materials, and crave any of the following: intense color, prints, structured or tailored clothes, embellishments, traditionally “feminine” or “sexy” styles, etc. I guess the obvious answer to finding what I want is “be the change,” but it’s honestly not in the cards for me to become a fabric designer. I wish for more stylistic diversity to go with my fashion ethics and wonder whether others have the same yearning.
Thanks so much for the hosts and participants in this fascinating conversation.
I completely agree with you on the second point! I love the idea of small, sustainable designers, but the clothes can sometimes be “boring”. I’d love to learn more about ethical designers that are more high fashion.
I’m so looking forward to another Slow Fashion October! Each week sounds really meaty… so I’m sure there will be lots to learn. I wanted to share this recent post on Plus-sized Fair Fashion in case it might be helpful: http://www.fairdare.org/blog/plus-sized-fair-fashion
1.) Nothing made for plus sizes is intended to last. I think it’s because of the notion that being fat is a transitive state. “Why should I bother to invest in good clothes? I’m not going to be this big forever!” “I found this sweater pattern I love, but I won’t knit it for myself because I could lose weight and then all that effort would be wasted. ” These are things that I’ve actually heard people say or imply. You have to come to a profound acceptance that the life you are currently living is the only one you’re going to get and that you aren’t a “Before” just waiting to become and “After” before you are willing to spend time, effort, and money on yourself. Fat creds, I take a 2x or 3x depending on brand and I was a size 22/24 before I got pregnant.
It is a lot of polyester crap in stores at my size and things fall apart with any sort of wear. I’ve had better luck with natural fibers from stores like Old Navy than I have from more expensive stores. I will confess that I have only recently become concerned with the longevity of my garments. Pants, in general, wear out super quickly if worn with regularity and there’s no comfortable way to fix an inner thigh. Please forget about trends or the concept of timelessness! If you are just beginning to contemplate sewing your own clothes, start with a pattern and fabric you love and it will all follow from there. Something you sew yourself will generally keep longer than something you buy because it fits you better and you treat it gentler. You’re also more likely to choose quality materials. If you intend to make the majority of your wardrobe, then start to think about durable seam finishes and woven interfacing instead of the papery stuff you can find most places. The best trick I’ve found for sewing knits is to interface every seam line and any bands and ties to keep the garment from stretching out completely.
As for knitting, think critically about what you actually need and want. You can knit a large gauge sweater fairly quickly, but if you run warm will you really wear a 3 st/in sweater? It will take longer, but knitting a smaller gauge sweater will produce something you can wear for more of the year. If you are unsure of a pattern, search ravelry’s finished projects for the 3 largest sizes to see if anyone has already made one and if it would look good on you. Sometimes looking at the FOs will really steer me one direction or the other. Lastly, don’t be afraid of math. Designers add width by adding stitches between motifs, adding pattern repeats, or adding stitches on either side of a panel. Once you figure out how your design works and how much you have to up-size, you can add that to the design just like you would if you wanted to take a 60″ shawl to a 90″ blanket. You can also tinker with size by changing gauge, 100 sts at 5 sts/in is 20″ wide, at 4 sts/in it’s 25″. Even changing gauge by a quarter or half a stitch can yield big results over the course of the sweater.
2.) Kid’s clothes. There’s a second hand economy that can only be found via facebook. This is why all the clothes at resale shops look so tired. They’ve been through the many hands of the private sale boards and is retired to Good Will or Salvation Army.
Target’s Circo line wears like iron and costs very little. Get boys pants for girls, they reinforce the knees and they’re not cut so slim so it will see her through the weight gain before the growth spurt. Get coats a size up so it can be worn with a sweater and possibly for 2 winters. Kids don’t tend to get much wider between 18M and 5T; what was a dress last year becomes a tunic this year and is worth keeping around next year to be a shirt if it isn’t too disgusting. Children think mending is magic and will point out any you do to random strangers with a “There used to be a hole, but Mommy fixed it!” Might as well get creative.
All hand knits are cute on kids; the over sized ones, the outgrown ones the kid won’t let go of, even the ones they steal from you. Go crazy and don’t aim for a perfect fit because it is always going to be perfect. Elizabeth Zimmermann said something about how when knitting for babies or children she never worries about gauge, she just finds an appropriately sized child. This is still good advice.
Making for the life/size you are currently living is such good advice.
Loved your whole comment, needleworkreverie! Such useful and specific and encouraging tips.
You are brilliant! Thank you for all your comments! Size acceptance is such a huge part of all aspects of our consumerism. I think of all the silly things I bought over the years too small with a plan to lose weight, and recently all the much-loved pieces I held on to thinking they would fit again. Practicing some deep acceptance of my post-pregnancy body I sold a lot of clothes to a resale shop and was therefore able to pay to get some other items altered to actually fit!
Plus love your solutions oriented comments on clothing kids. Thank you again!
You are so welcome! This just reminded me of this denim skirt I bought in high school the size down from what I took at the time. It was so beautiful and had embroidered red roses all over it. I hung it on the back of my closet door to motivate me to loose weight. I never did fit that skirt and I never did that again. However I’m going to need to take a jaundiced look at my closet after this baby comes! Thank you for reminding me.
OK, say you plan to be more mindful going forward. I’d like to see a more in depth discussion about responsible, realistic ways to discard what no longer fits your body or your image. Throwing away just adds to the landfill. If you donate to a charity, what actually happens to the garment? Also, some charities require labels…which my garments never have either because I remove them because of the itch factor or because they are handmade. Practical suggestions?
This is my number one concern and crusade right now!
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Karen! Can you tell me what the top right photo is from? I’ve some holes in my knitting I’m creatively patching, but this is the most graceful example, and I’d love to know who did it! Thanks!
It’s linked at the bottom of the post — that’s Sam Lamb’s handiwork
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in addition to the lack of options for plus sizes, what’s there is so expensive! (and this is across the board.) I love all those silk and linen elizsuzanne pieces, but I’m on more of an old navy budget. I have to wear clothes while I fight the system…
I guess that’s why I’ve seen making a wardrobe as a more financially viable ethical option, especially since you can factor materials into an entertainment budget. (I always think about stephanie pearl-mcphee’s bit about nice sock yarn costing less per hour than movie tickets.) I feel like plus-sizes still run into problems here with sewing, though – I’ve had a hard time finding patterns (except from grainline) that come in my size and from people and artists I want to support. also, it takes a lot of time, intention, and energy. I’m really excited to hear everyone’s different takes on and experiences with these issues! \
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I’ve always tried to be thoughtful about my kids wardrobes. I can’t afford the precious/trendy kids clothes companies that I love to look at, and because kids need entire new wardrobes every 6-9 months it’s more about thoughtful planning. My son I have 4 pairs of jeans and 6 tops and rotate through all, and all his jeans still get holes so quickly. My daughter I also plan outfits that are well made, but things on sale and very interchangeable, no outfits that need a certain pant to pair with a certain top. Then I go through their clothes every couple months to pull out anything they grow out of and hand it down to other kids I know. Buying the best quality you can afford usually means they will last longer and clean better than cheap clothes. I shop mostly at gap and zara, and even though it is fast fashion I pick only classic items that they will wear maybe 50-100 times before they grow. And I knit thing that will adapt as they grow so they can wear it for longer.
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So I’m not the first to say this in reference to kids but I want to place another vote for it. We have been blessed with hand-me-downs from neighbors and in turn I pay it forward other neighbors. I make what I need to in order to fill in the gaps. And I mend, patch, and alter what I can if the garment still fits. My in-laws but then their coats each year and my small kids always seem to get two seasons from them before they pass them along. We can’t afford to shop most of the sustainable elite brands but we can afford to reuse and add longevity to what we do get. And we don’t buy more than is needed. I am looking to do more about making essentials though. This post shows the many conversions of one pair of jeggings for my daughter: https://instagram.com/p/BHr4O8UhorE/
I am a mother of four young adults. Slow fashion to me means having educated them in needing less, in caring more. I’ve always knitted for them, and they know that every stitch holds a thought for them, a carress, a kiss … so the finished piece is a great embrace. I am very fortunate that they like the things I knit for them. My youngest daughter, now 21, wears a linen and cotton jacket I knit for her father when we were still dating, which means I must have knit it 30 something years ago. It has stretched a bit and sags at the elbows but it makes a great oversized vintage piece she loves. I think it is because it makes her think of us when we were young and so much in love. My concerns are about respecting yourself and others, about not living above your own possibilities or the possibilities of those around you. My concern is a moral one. I buy few clothes, and stick to quality classics that I know I will feel comfortable in after 10 years. In your company, I hope to become more educated and more mindfull, and to have new thoughts upon which to reflect that I can pass on to my children while I happily knit.
I stumbled across this idea last night and it fit right in with the direction I’d been taking lately. Planning to really DO something about it this month with everyone’s inspiration. Love Instagram for keeping me involved in the creative community and creating a collective environment.
Yes, yes, yes! Well done. Exemplary of the kind of work we aim to promote and celebrate at The Maker and Mender’s Styleposium. Thank you for organizing and hosting. Looking forward to participating and spreading the word.
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How about this? I was organizing my closet last spring and opened (finally) a zipper bag that was squished in the back of the closet. Inside were 3 of my father’s sweaters. He has been gone for 20 years. Two I had made, one was store bought and he had worn it for probably 20 years. We have family photos over the years and in them he usually had it on. I mended, washed and blocked it….rats it was too small! Asked my daughter if she would like it, she reported two days ago that she has worn it 3 times already in this cooler weather. Score! The two that I had made him will fit me and they are also washed and blocked, ready to go this winter! One is a yellow vest that I made for him when I was 18 to replace the one of his that I had worn to shreds as a teen! I am now 61!! Timeless and recycled, worn with love!!! Love this subject! I am pathologically, ecologically conservative and proud of it!
insert praise hands emoji!
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Thank you so much for starting this and providing these prompts! This is my first year participating and I am really looking forward to it. https://mythologie.us/2016/10/04/slow-fashion-october-week-one-introductions/
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This just made October even more amazing (which I didn’t think was possible). So thrilled! This is my first year participating on my blog – here is a link to my Introductions post. Thanks for checking it out!
On the blog today – #SlowFashionOctober: Introductions. I’ll be writing about #SlowFashion all month, follow along! http://meanderblog.com/blog/sfo16-intro
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Slow fashion to me is,Looking for a practical and useful clothing that,Impresses my style and personality. Its like I take a pattern, change it to suit my ideas of how I want it to Look. I love Thrifty shops and have taken even the beat up ones and re made the pattern.Tearing it out at the seams ,then making a paper pattern.Creating from a visual point.learning about fashion ,that takes time to create.
I like #slowoctoberfashion ,because it guides me in the direction I feel passionate about,and That’s creating fashion I love.Simple, but classy and even elegant.This is my first time here,and excited ,this will be a fun fashion journey for me.
Just found you through Ginger Makes and this is so my jam! I’m keen to blog along although I’m not on IG. Great initiative. Thanks!
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This is such a great project! I just discovered #slowfashionoctober and it hits exactly the right spot right now. I’ve been trying hard to be more conscious about purchasing clothes, about mending and about fixing hand-knits so I will actually wear them. It is so interesting to read about everyone’s journey.
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I’m excited for this year’s Slotober. I have the yarn for a sweater- from Brooklyn Tweed, so 100% produced in the U.S. and I hope to cast it on this month. One thing I haven’s seen a lot of is discussions about slow fashion for queer/trans folks. I will probably be spending a lot of my time talking/thinking about that, since it’s a big concern for me. For the interested, here’s my intro post: http://torykmoir.tumblr.com/post/151600214815/slow-fashion-october
and on insta: https://www.instagram.com/littlefireflyheart/
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I also just found this through Ginger Makes! So so excited I found it in time to participate! I am going to start blogging along and participating some on Instagram. Just posted about how I got interested in slow fashion here https://clevercouture.com/2016/10/10/slow-fashion-october/ thanks for starting this up!
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Just found you through the blog of “readytoknit”. Love, love your focus on slow fashionoctober! As a long-time knitter and would-be textile designer, my version of the slow clothing movement is to create hand-knitted textiles that make me feel like wearing couture, but without the expense. It has been marvelous reading different comments and blog links here, thank you so much for sharing! You can find my own reflections in my blog here:
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My english is very bad so i speak in french, but if you want i can use google traduction.
J’ai commencé à faire attention à mes vêtements lorsque j’ai eu des problèmes d’argent. Je me suis mise à repriser, mettre des pièces sur les trous. Et faire attention à eux. Maintenant j’ai des vêtements que j’aime et que je fais de mes mains parfois , tricot, couture. Mes préférés. Je n’ai plus de problème d’argent mais je garde mes vieux vêtements et je les répare si nécessaire, je ne suis plus vraiment la mode, sauf celle des tricots haha.
Je comprends! ;)
So happy to join the conversation! http://www.assortmentblog.com/assortment/2016/10/slow-fashion-october.html
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