All about sustainable slow fashion

There is no such thing as being 100% sustainable with fashion. But there is different ways of approaching the topic that you can learn from, to become more sustainable consumer, and to decide where you stand.

'More sustainable fashion'

Sustainable fashion movement started for the need of cultivating a change to the whole fashion system, and to lead it towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological and financial systems, not only with the materials used in the fashion industry. A consultation company called  Green Strategy, that has specialized in sustainability and circularity issues in fashion, have published the following definition about sustainable fashion. They are separating 'sustainable fashion' from 'more sustainable fashion' as fashion can not be defined as 100 % sustainable, even if it was promoting ecological and social justice.

"More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components. From an environmental perspective, the aim should be to minimize any undesirable environmental effect of the product’s life cycle by: (a) ensuring efficient and careful use of natural resources (water, energy, land, soil, animals, plants, biodiversity, ecosystems, etc); (b) selecting renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc) at every stage, and (c) maximizing repair, remake, reuse, and recycling of the product and its components. From a socio-economic perspective, all stakeholders should work to improve present working conditions for workers on the field, in the factories, transportation chain, and stores, by aligning with good ethics, best practice and international codes of conduct. In addition, fashion companies should contribute to encourage more sustainable consumption patterns, caring and washing practices, and overall attitudes to fashion." (Dr. Brismar, Green Strategy)

So sustainable fashion is not only about producing clothes, shoes and accessories in environmentally and socio-economically sustainable ways, but also about creating more sustainable habits of consumption and use. This requires shifts in individual attitudes and behaviour in consuming. Good news are, that there are many ways for fashion brands to offer a more sustainable fashion, and for consumers to consume more consciously. 

The two perspectives

It is important to remember that there is two perspectives to the story: that of brands and that of consumers. For brands this means producing in a way which is the most considerate of humanity and the environment. The goal is to have a system which works without leaving an adverse footprint. For consumers this means thinking about what you buy, knowing which ethics you are supporting through your purchases, and also asking yourself if you are really going to wear that new piece to the extent that it was worth being made.

From 'fast fashion' to 'slow fashion'

Slow fashion is a movement of designing, creating, and buying garments and textiles for quality and longevity. Slow fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion, which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability. On the consumer approach it involves buying better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.

Slow fashion garments are normally made by hand, and therefore consume time to produce. The whole creation process has an artistic approach, and the creations are unique because of the exclusive touch. The products are considered to be durable and better in quality, and therefore more expensive than their counterparts. Often slow fashion brands are engaging with environmentally friendly practices too. Slow fashion represents values that are socio-economically high, and do not exploit either land or human resources. They generally compensate their carbon footprint in collaborations with environmental or other projects where they either donate, or work together in other ways to raise awareness.

Fast fashion, as a contrary, is a term used by retailers and designers to describe a widely implemented phenomenon and an enterprise model to make big profit, and often unfortunately in problematic ways. Fast fashion is not appealing to the environment either. The excessive textile production that needs to keep up with fast fashion requirements endure overwhelming CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to polluting the air, fast fashion is also polluting the earth's water. I mean, think about it: in order to produce one t-shirt it takes 2,700 litres of water! And on top of this, we live in a world where artisan coffees can cost more than T-shirts. This is the world of fast fashion and that is a major problem.

Sustaining a healthy body image in fashion

Sustainability in fashion means also how we sustain a healthy body image that has gotten a bit twisted throughout the years in fashion industry defined marketing which idealizes skinny, nearly anorectic models. Everyone has a right to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin and we can take small actions in our daily lives to help foster a more accepting environment.

TAIKA's mission is to promote healthy body image and support self empowerment and raise self-love amongst women through body positive marketing and message. Instead of dropping comments about body related dissatisfaction, we could be focusing more on the functionality of our body, and the positive things that it can do for us. This may help to support and improve body image. It is again just a matter of creating new habits in order to implement new traditions in our conversing culture.

Another common response to the research linking body dissatisfaction with exposure to idealised bodies in the media is to suggest the inclusion of 'disclaimer' or 'warning' labels on advertisements in which models have been edited for delivering an honest picture. Until that we can promote non-photoshopped pictures by bringing transparency by hashtags and so on.


Making the unconscious conscious

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." - Carl Jung

We can relatively easily influence and change our conscious thoughts and values. But changing the unconscious mind takes a little bit more effort. It requires us to make “new recordings”, in other words, we must develop new thought patterns and values that can guide our lives in more positive and constructive ways. Conscious consumerism, also known as 'ethical consumerism' or 'green consumerism', is a trend that grows more and more popular by the day as consumers are becoming more aware.

How can I influence as a consumer?

As an individual, it may be hard to see the benefits of being a conscious consumer. What does buying organic products or blacklisting an unethical company can do in the long run? But if each person would think that way, we would be facing a huge headache. Adding up each person’s individual actions equates to big changes in the bigger picture.

So how can I as a consumer contribute to more sustainable future? For starters, you can start by 'voting with your money' and stop supporting unethical fashion companies. Buy products that are natural and have a short supply chain. Buy products that get around by using bikes, or other environmentally friendly ways. Rather reuse items, and buy second-hand whenever you can. Good ways are shopping at flea markets, borrowing from friends and family, shopping on ethical online marketplaces, and trying to fix broken goods rather than buying new. 

What is TAIKA doing for sustainability?

TAIKA is not only tackling environmental complications in fashion industry, but is criticizing fast fashion. When we are talking about sustainability in fashion we should be talking about sustainability in its anthropological aspect too. TAIKA is on a mission to bring awareness to the topics regarding the misconceptions of fashion industry and to target its unhealthy idealization of a certain female body type, that has crucial consequences for, i.e. causing body shaming and insecurities, especially amongst girls and young women.

Recycled fashion

TAIKA is using only 100 % recycled materials in producing the products. All TAIKA products are consciously handcrafted locally in Europe. 

Social Impact business

TAIKA is donating 1,00 € from every purchase to a reforestation NGO called Eden Projects, which is equivalent to planting 5 trees in Nepal, Madagascar, Haiti, Indonesia, Mozambique and Kenya.

Body positive fashion

TAIKA is supporting women empowerment and self-love by contributing to body positive marketing and spreading awareness around the topic.

Taking an action

It would be naive to say that buying things is going to save the planet, because it won’t. However, it would be equally naive to resign ourselves to inaction as in the system we live in buying things is an inevitable act for your existence. Unless you live totally off the grid, grow your own food, build your own shelter and so on and so forth.

If we have to be consumers, why not buy from companies who genuinely care about making the world a better place? Why not boycott companies who engage in unethical practices? When you look at it as if you’re fighting an insurmountable beast, it seems like a futile, unwinnable undertaking, but the fact is, every single bit counts. Taking on that perspective is critical in being a conscious individual, not just a conscious consumer.