What Is Slow Fashion? - Good On You
09 Nov

What Is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing. It advocates for buying better-quality garments that will last longer and valuing fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.

The beginnings of slow fashion

Over the last few years, a wave of change has been sweeping through the fashion industry. An increasing number of brands are rejecting the principles of fast fashion, as a more sustainable approach to making clothes comes to the fore.

The term “slow fashion” came about quite organically. It was coined by Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, following the phenomena of the slow food movement. As with the slow food movement, Fletcher saw a need for a slower pace in the fashion industry.

Slow fashion opposes the fast fashion model that emerged around 20 years ago, in which clothes became cheaper and trend cycles sped up. With brands like H&M burning 12 tonnes of unsold garments per year in spite of its ongoing sustainability efforts to close the loop in fashion, it’s clear that this philosophy is necessary.

Slow fashion becomes a movement

Pre-Industrial Revolution, garments were locally sourced and produced. People would buy durable clothing that could serve them for a long time or make their own from the textiles and resources available to them. Clothing reflected the place and culture of the people wearing them.

Modern day slow fashion has seen a reemergence of some of these old ways. It encourages us to buy fewer garments, less often. Instead of purchasing dozens of cheap clothes, conscious consumers invest in higher quality pieces made from more sustainable processes that emphasize the art of clothes making and celebrate the skills of craftspeople.

Slow fashion has seen increasing support in the last few years as consumers demand higher sustainability and ethical standards. As research shows, 19% of the top fast fashion-related searches are linked to the environment, ethics and sustainability.

Some characteristics of a slow fashion brand

  • Made from high quality, sustainable materials
  • Often sold in smaller (local) stores rather than huge chain enterprises
  • Locally sourced, produced, and sold garments
  • Few, specific styles per collection, which are released twice or maximum three times per year

Some staple brands

These brands implement fair practices for their environmental, ethical and animal impacts and are great starting points if you are looking for some initial slow fashion staples.


Rated: Good

OhSevenDays was started by Australian-Canadian Megan Mummery to promote slow fashion and the ‘power of circularity’. Based in Istanbul, the brand reclaims end-of-roll fabrics from the city’s garment factories and creates sharp, everyday womenswear that’s as wearable as it is ethical. Essentially, it makes slow fashion from fast fashion's leftovers! OhSevenDays' garments are available in sizes XS-XL or custom sizing.

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Shop OhSevenDays.


Rated: Great

Kowtow uses organic, fair trade cotton and non-toxic dyes to produce its clothes. It designs elegant, timeless womenswear, and also has a range of ceramics. Find the clothes in sizes XS-L.

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Shop Kowtow @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Kowtow.


Rated: Good
man wearing black asket t-shirt

Asket doesn’t design for seasons, it creates for forever. The brand has been perfect the slow fashion wardrobe since 2015; one piece at a time, free of compromise, full of love.

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Shop Asket.


Rated: Good

ARIELLE is a sustainable apparel label committed to organic, fair-trade operations and plastic-free packaging & production. The brand also focuses on sustainable textiles and domestic manufacturing, two characteristics of slow fashion brands.

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Rated: Good

Encircled slow fashion collections are made in Canada from sustainable and eco-conscious fabrics. Every element of the brand’s designs is thoughtfully-considered to create high-quality garments that is equal parts versatile, comfortable and stylish.

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Shop Encircled.


Rated: Good

TWOTHIRDS sees itself as a brand for people who are awake and aware of the immense value of our oceans, but also have a thirst for style and substance. Through their Pre-Order system they estimate how many pieces they are going to sell from one product: they, therefore, produce what they sell, which is another great approach of slow fashion.

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How is this slower approach changing the fashion industry?

From top end to small scale designers, the values that make up the Slow Fashion movement suggest a complete overhaul of consuming and production.  This approach has inspired many changes in recent years, particularly in the production of clothing, but also in consumer behaviour.

And while there is a growing support for Slow Fashion, there is still a long way to go. To really support the Slow Fashion movement, we need to be a part of the growing movement of people looking beyond the “appeal” of the cheap, high turnover of fast fashion. We can maintain awareness of what a brand is really representing and focus on quality, not quantity by simplifying our wardrobes. As they say, less is more, right?

Discover 4 easy ways to simplify your wardrobe.

Author bio: Madeleine is an experienced content writer who specialises in all things personal sustainability, environmental awareness, and minimal consumption. She loves using her writing and research to clearly communicate these key solutions to environmental issues, and endeavours to help people do more in their everyday lives to minimise their footprint on the planet. To do this, Madeleine also manages the online platform Our Simple Gestures, and in her spare time loves being outdoors and enjoying life! Find her at LinkedIn, Instagram and at the website.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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