My Journey to Slow Fashion
In December 2014 I read Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline and I decided to go without buying RTW clothing for a year. I did not succeed. I had a long history of having a ton of clothes, shopping all the time, buying way more than I needed. I was quite literally aghast when I would see blazers with price tags above $15 or $25. As if! I was shopping at online discount sites as if it was my job. (It was not.) I was feeling more and more dissatisfied with my purchases. The packages would only bring me happiness for so long before I wanted to buy more. I recognized that I didn't need it, or want it really, but I had no idea what to do if I wasn't spending my time trolling sites for sales. So I bought a book. ha! If I had been really committed, I suppose I would have taken it out from the library, but here we are. So. I made the commitment.
Immediately, I got pregnant in 2015 and nothing fit properly anymore, so I ended up buying maternity clothes at the mall. While I enjoyed some pieces, I found myself frustrated by the cost for a legit single use item. I had been gifted a sewing machine in 2005, which I had used on and off throughout the years and so when my daughter was born in September 2015, I started making a ton of my own clothes since I was at home with her. In Canada, we are lucky to have a year of maternity leave and I used it to its full potential to make all sorts of tops, pants, dresses, etc. In December 2015, I bought my very last RTW garments, a couple pairs of jeans for my kids and one last pair for me.
Looking back, I can see that I felt I was really making a difference by not participating in the fast fashion industry, and yet, I was making so. many. clothes. And I was having a major style crisis because I kept buying random prints of fabric that I loved and yet nothing was complementary. And I loved the idea of the shirt/top/dress in theory but as soon as I put it on, I could tell it just wasn't "me." Though I felt I was living slow fashion, there were three blind spots (probably more!).
One: Slow fashion is not making #allthethings.
Two: Home sewing can be incredibly wasteful. Factory cut fabric is created with minimal waste because they are cutting multiple sizes and can puzzle piece the pattern onto the fabric. Also, profit margins encourage using every scrap.
Three: I had not taken the time to really consider what my style is, and how I can make items that fit that vision and my life AND are current gaps in my wardrobe. Slowly, I realized that what I really needed were jeans, leggings and comfortable knit tops.
In 2016 I invested in a serger, so I could sew knit tops with ease and then I found some stretch denim and thought, I'll just give jeans a shot. What the hell? I used the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans which had been trending hardcore on Instagram in the home sewing world. They changed my whole perspective. I started to really feel confident in my skills because I had been practicing almost everyday for two years and I was really settling into myself and my fashion-zone. And I finally had jeans to wear with all my crazy tops! This is when I could see it all coming together. I started researching and learning more about the fashion industry, and then more about how home based sewing isn't quite as sustainable, eco-friendly and outside the fast fashion industry as I thought. I watched The True Cost on Netflix and it changed my perspective yet again. I found myself relating to my clothes in a different way once I could see the people who made them, hear the roar of the factories, feel the sun beating down as they stirred indigo vats.
A crystal bell rang and I realized that I was hooked to the creative process rather than the output. I have since slowed down my sewing for me by quite a bit. I make only a few pieces here and there that I have thought through and know I will love for years. Being able to help guide other beginner sewists along their journey allows me to be creative without over-populating my closet.