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03 Jul

What Is Slow Fashion?

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What exactly does slow fashion entail? Slow fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion that carefully considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, and focusses on timeless, high-quality designs over trend-driven pieces destined for the landfill after a few wears.

What is slow fashion?

There are countless terms in the sustainable fashion sphere, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed—especially when some of them seem to blur together. So what is “slow fashion” exactly, and how is it different from sustainable fashion? We’re here to tackle the term for you and explain why slowing fashion down is crucial for a fashion industry that leaves a lighter footprint for generations to come.

Put simply, slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It encompasses an awareness and approach to fashion that carefully considers the processes and resources required to make clothing. It advocates for buying better-quality garments that will last longer, and values fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet along the way. 

Realistically, slow fashion and sustainable or ethical fashion have a lot of similarities. They are sister movements and follow the same general guidelines. The main difference with slow fashion is that it hones in on reducing consumption and production more specifically, harkening back to the pre-fast fashion era of our grandparents when clothing was a long-term investment rather than a throwaway hobby.

The beginnings of slow fashion

The past decade or so has seen a wave of change sweep through the fashion industry. An increasing number of brands are rejecting the principles of fast fashion and opting for a more sustainable approach to making clothes.

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 30 years ago, in which clothes became cheaper, and trend cycles sped up. And despite ongoing sustainability efforts to close the loop in fashion, ultra fast fashion brands like SHEIN are pumping out an alarming amount of poorly-made new styles every day. It’s clear that this philosophy is a necessary part of the movement as a whole.

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 re-emergence of some of these old ways. Initially, it asks us to take a step back and decide if we really need something new, or if we can shop our closet for some forgotten piece that maybe just needs a small repair. It then encourages us to buy fewer garments less often, and opt for second hand when we can. When it comes to buying new, instead of purchasing six cheap polyester tops that will unravel after one or two wears, for example, conscious consumers invest in higher quality pieces. They will be made from more sustainable processes and lower-impact fabrics that emphasise the art of clothes making and celebrate the skills of craftspeople, like one or two organic cotton or linen tops you know will last for years to come. Finally, slow fashion asks us to stop treating our clothes as disposable, and to make an effort to repair, upcycle, pass along, or responsibly dispose of them when they no longer serve us. 

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. As awareness and popularity increases, the planet and all its inhabitants are set to benefit from this slower and more considered approach to fashion.

Some characteristics of a slow fashion brand

  • Made from high quality, lower-impact materials like linen
  • Garments are more timeless than trendy
  • 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, or a permanent seasonless collection
  • Often made-to-order to reduce unnecessary production

Staple slow brands

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


Rated: Great
Asian woman wearing red sleeveless skivvy dress by A.BCH.

A.BCH is a Melbourne-based, Australian-made fashion label for individuals who care about garment provenance. It utilises renewable, organic, and recycled materials.

Find the range in sizes XS-XL, or customise to fit you.

See the rating.

Shop A.BCH.


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 responsible. Essentially, it makes slow fashion from fast fashion's leftovers.

OhSevenDays' garments are available in sizes XS-XL, or in custom sizing.

See the rating.

Shop OhSevenDays.


Rated: Good
People wearing tops, sweaters, jackets, bottoms and accessories by Asket.

ASKET has been creating timeless wardrobe essentials since 2015 with revolutionary sizing and fair pricing. The brand disregards seasonal collections, cuts out all the middlemen, and only sells directly to you—putting its entire focus on building a single permanent collection.

Find the range in sizes 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.



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. It manufactures all its products locally to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as audits all of its final stage of production.

The clothes can be found in sizes XS-L.

See the rating.


Elle Evans

Rated: Good

Founded in 2013 in Australia, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, lower-impact swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain.

The range is stocked in sizes 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.


Rated: Great
image looking up at four people dressed in Unspun

unspun is an American brand, fostering a denim world that reduces global carbon emissions by 1% through a zero-inventory and anti-waste process.

Its product sizing is totally customisable to ensure you always find the perfect fit.

See the rating.

Shop unspun.

Shop unspun @ Cerqular.


Rated: Good
Someone wearing a pink tailored suit jacket and trousers, and someone wearing a colourful sweatshirt and bottoms by LANIUS.


Woman wearing Lanius denim

LANIUS – Site-wide (EU)

LANIUS' slow fashion clothes are the go-to for those who love high quality, low impact materials. Exclusive 10% off with code GOODXLANIUS1024 (Available in the EU only). Minimum spend €50. Sale items excluded. (Ends: 9 JUN)

Checkout code: GOODXLANIUS1024
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“Love fashion, think organic, be responsible” are the maxims of LANIUS. The German brand uses lower-impact materials, like GOTS certified cotton. All LANIUS facilities are SA8000 certified and it is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.

LANIUS' clothes are available in EU sizes 34-44.

See the rating.


The R Collective

Rated: Great

The R Collective's womenswear collections are made by reusing rescued excess materials from leading luxury brands and reputable manufacturers. The brand uses a high-proportion of lower-impact materials, which limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production. It also ensures the payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

The garments are typically offered in two sizes: XS-S and M-L.

See the rating.

Shop The R Collective.

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 consumption and production. As we have explored, 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 four easy ways to simplify your wardrobe

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 thousands of rated brands.

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