Slow Fashion, Quality over Quantity, and Why It’s Great to Be a Maker

With so many yarn stores struggling to stay open and designers having a hard time figuring out how to make a living off of $5 patterns, there is much talk about whether our industry is going to last. On the other hand, Etsy is filled with new yarn dyers, and it seems everyone who’s been a knitter or crocheter for much length of time has their own pattern or two up on Ravelry. We aren’t going anywhere!

It seems very timely that discussions about slow fashion have been popping up, and after watching this documentary (look for it on Netflix), I am completely on board with embracing the movement. If slow fashion is a new term for you (as it was for me), here are a few links that explain it better:

http://fashionista.com/2012/12/the-slow-fashion-movement-what-it-is-and-the-10-brands-that-are-doing-it-right

https://fringeassociation.com/2016/09/30/slow-fashion-october-week-1-introductions/

Can Slow Fashion Impact Fast Fashion?

When people think of consumerism and fast fashion, the first things that usually pop into their minds are the overseas factories with poor working conditions for women and children, and overstuffed landfills. These things are probably the two biggest problems with fast fashion today – especially with companies that churn out “collections” every week. When I went to school, there were usually only two, or maybe three seasons a year.

Speaking from a designer point of view, fast fashion has also destroyed creativity. It is not possible to produce entire “collections” every week that will be sold for a few dollars a garment and will probably be in a landfill a month or two later, and still maintain any sense of creativity or design. If you go to the mall these days, doesn’t it seem like everything looks the same? I don’t enjoy shopping anymore at all (well, except for yarn, but that’s another story!), and I realized when I was at the mall a few weeks ago that the reason is because I’m not at all inspired by what I see. And designers cannot just “produce” creativity – it takes time to absorb inspiration, time to experiment, and time to make if you want something of true quality.

I think the fiber community deserves a big credit for its role in this movement. We practically define what slow fashion is! When you buy yarn that has already received alot of by-hand treatment – such as being hand dyed and/or handspun – it just naturally follows you will want to make something special with it that you will keep and pass down to loved ones. The entire process from when the fiber comes off the animal to the finished project is the opposite of being disposable. Even if you are buying cheaper yarns, you are still making something by hand that has a personal touch and will be of value to you over anything you might buy at Walmart for a few bucks. We put thought into what we buy and make, and how we use it once it’s finished.

Speaking as a designer, I put alot of thought into my patterns. I DESIGN each one, from start to finish, which is so much work, but you can be certain I’m not working off of some template, and definitely not just churning out copies of whatever is “on trend” at the moment. Browsing through Ravelry, I am always amazed at all the creativity in our community. It is filled with unique, one-of-a-kind projects, and I hope that we will be the people to inspire the rest of the world to take a few moments to appreciate the unique, and value quality over quantity. And I am much more inspired to design things that I know will be lovingly made and cherished for a long time to come.

I hope we can inspire the fashion industry at large to return to a slower pace as well, and to putting more thought into creativity and design, and less into selling what amounts to quantities of junk.

Timely

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4 thoughts on “Slow Fashion, Quality over Quantity, and Why It’s Great to Be a Maker

  1. I find it interesting that I have hand-knits that are over 30 years old. . . and I still wear them! Hand knits can be repaired, mended, and worn for years (and when they do finally wear out, the yarn’s probably still usable!).

    I also think it’s interesting that people take far better care of hand-knits then they do other clothing that might need just as much care. It probably has to do with how hand-knits are viewed with the cost of labour, while commercial garments don’t have that same value construct.

    I also find that people who are ‘makers’ of some form often have much more awareness of such issues. A gardener often has deep concerns about pesticide use and the environment. A knitter/crocheter/weaver often starts seeing concerns about the fast-fashion industry. A computer coder often has concerns over ethics, free speech, and internet privacy/security. . . and so on. It seems that people who are makers within a community often get quite involved in the activism around that community, which is often a good thing!

    1. I think awareness also grows when the problem becomes so big that it affects more than just one industry. Alot of the things you mentioned, as well as the issues with fast fashion, affect everyone, on a global scale. But I think our community can definitely have a good effect, if for no other reason, than teaching people why it is better to appreciate a handmade item and not view everything in life as disposable. 🙂

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