Slow Fashion: An A-Z guide to adopting the lifestyle


An A-Z guide to incorporating slow fashion in your life

Give fashion an eco-positive makeover

By ELLE team  June 5th, 2020

From eco-warriors who’re saving the planet to a how-to guide on buying clothes that last, reform your wardrobe (and your lives) while prioritising the planet. Here’s how you can incorporate slow fashion in your lifestyle:

A for APPS THAT CAN HELP YOU GO GREEN

Oroeco: Combat climate change by calculating your daily carbon footprint based on your electricity consumption, transport, food and leisure.
DoneGood: This app features brands with ethical, sustainable businesses that create apparel, bags, outdoor gear, kidswear, shoes, skincare and cosmetics.
Bunny Free: An initiative by PETA, Bunny Free reveals if the company you’re looking to shop from is animal cruelty-free. One can also scan a product barcode to look up the company’s animal testing policies.

B for BIOENGINEERED FABRICS

Can the inclusion of technology counter the ill-effects of fast fashion? Turns out many innovators—from New York-based company Algiknits to design studios Kukka and Patagonia Inc—are now engineering biodegradable and nontoxic fabrics made out of living bacteria, algae, yeast, animal cells or fungi.

C for CARBON CRAFT DESIGN

This design and material innovation company mitigates air pollution, one decorative tile at a time. Started in 2016, the Mumbai-based group includes several architects and engineers developing carbon-offsetting products that can be used while constructing homes.

D for DIGITAL FASHION SHOWS

Some years ago, the idea of a digital fashion show seemed unrealistic and naïve but in the post-Covid-19 world, it is going to be a reality that designers have to embrace. Last month, Shanghai Fashion Week became the world’s first fashion week event to go fully digital and more than 150 designers livestreamed their collections via Tmall, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform. Moscow also staged its first digital fashion week where 32 designers replaced the catwalk with presentations that were streamed on 103 Russian and foreign websites, along with social media platforms like Vkontakte, Facebook and TikTok.

E for ECO-FRIENDLY SHOES

Billions of shoes are produced every year and it takes more than 30-40 years for a pair to fully decompose in the land. But, thanks to a range of brands from around the world, we have now entered the brave new world of eco-conscious shoes, from The Sole Sisters putting Kolhapuris on the global map and organic shoe brand Etiko to sustainable sneaker startup Nothing New.

F for FASHION RETAIL

How does one shop with sustainability in mind? Multi-designer e-shop Ikkvi, that curates ethical designers like ITO, Doodlage and The Pot Plant, is dedicated to mindfulness. So is Neem Living, a lifestyle brand where one can shop organic apparel, accessories and home décor. E-commerce portal Saahra—which sells brands like Abraham & Thakore, Akaaro, Bodice and many others is also a digital space the celebrates conscious living. Internationally, retailer-cum-consultancy Eco-Age that works with several brands including MatchesFashion, Chopard and Reformation; it is also the force behind the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, which encourages celebrities to wear sustainable fashion on the red carpet, and is a major player in the sustainable fashion space.

G for GRETA THUNBERG

With her impassioned speeches and protests that helped unite millions of school kids from around the world, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s fight against global warming transcends backgrounds and borders. She has fearlessly spoken against national presidents and corporate executives and her banner emblazoned with ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (school strike for climate) has been translated into dozens of languages.

H for HEMP

For centuries, hemp was the fibre of choice for things like sail canvas, rope and paper. It’s cheap and sustainable to produce, grows at the speed of light, and nourishes the soil. Now Indian brands like B Label by BOHECO, Sui, Bhu:Sattva and Hemp Fabric Lab are bringing hemp to the forefront of the Indian fashion industry.

I for IRIS VAN HERPEN

The Dutch designer has redefined the meaning of femininity by fusing fashion, craft and technology while exploring themes like biopiracy and magnetic motion in her oeuvre of work. However, her 3-D printed and lasercut designs, often described as otherworldly, ensure that there’s no fabric wastage and look at sustainability from a futuristic lens.

J for JANE FONDA

On the eve of her 82nd birthday this year, actress Jane Fonda decided to attend a protest for climate change in Washington. Of course, this was not the first time that she was rallying for the global cause. In fact, the Grace and Frankie star has been previously arrested five times while protesting.

K for KERING AWARD FOR SUSTAINABLE FASHION

The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion was born out a five-year partnership between French luxury conglomerate Kering and Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. Agraj Jain, who made suits for Italian menswear brand Brioni with a cruelty-free fabric Ahimsa or peace silk, won this award in 2016. And Namami Mondal’s project that repurposed Gucci’s deadstock apparel into hand-embroidered swatches of Kantha fabric helped her bag the award in 2019.

L for LANDFILLS

According to Fashionopolis, a book written by veteran style writer Dana Thomas, more than 60 per cent of fabric fibres are synthetic and if they end up in landfills, they will stay there forever.

M for MALAI

Malai is a PETA-approved, vegan and biodegradable material development startup. The Kerala-based company makes textiles from organic bacterial cellulose, which is grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India. The final product is as durable and flexible as paper or leather. Malai also won the Circular Design Challenge in 2020—India’s largest sustainable fashion award.

N for NETWORK OF WEAVERS

Eka’s Rina Singh worked with the craft communities of Telangana for her Spring-Summer ’20 line. After designing a capsule collection for the Telangana government to celebrate National Handloom Day in 2019, Singh decided to showcase the state’s ingenious ikat handwork as a bigger project in collaboration with Telangana State Handloom Weavers’ Co-operative Society.
O for ORGANIC 

It refers to natural fibres that are grown and produced without the use of toxic materials such as pesticides. One of the most organic fibres you can find is cotton. However, you can also choose from alternatives like organic hemp, silk and jute, to name just a few.
P for PAIWAND

Fashion design student Akshita Singhal was awarded the 2018 Global James McGuire Business Plan Competition for her business model, ‘Paiwand’. Singhal’s novel idea aims at managing fashion waste via upcycling textile waste and turning it into designer fabrics and clothing.
Q for QUESTIONS

Five questions you need to ask yourself before making the next purchase:
Do I really need this?
How often will I wear this?
Do I have something similar in my wardrobe?
Would I donate any other items of clothing in order to buy this one?
R for REGENERATIVE FARMING

A groundbreaking way of thinking of agriculture, regenerative farming promises to reverse climate change by rebuilding microscopic life forms into degraded soil biodiversity through farming and grazing practices. This type of farming slows down soil erosion and makes plants more resilient to pests.
S for SONICA SARNA DESIGN

Winner of the CO Leadership Award 2019, Sonica Sarna Design is an ethical design and production company that works with global brands like Mara Hoffman, VFCorp and Whistles, among many others. From creating sustainable supply chains and using certified organic fabrics to building a reliable network of artisan communities and engaging with women’s empowerment programs, this production house helps brands create a socio-economic impact by producing responsibly-sourced highend garments.
T for TRASH(ION)

A range of brands are sewing sustainability into their design philosophy. Clothing companies like Everlane, Patagonia, and H&M are all making garments out of recycled plastics. Furthermore, Indian designer Amit Aggarwal has turned bindi waste into cuttingedge couture and péro took discarded military jackets and elevated them into pieces one can hold on to for life.
U for UPCYCLING

Upcycling is a creative process which allows one to reuse a discarded object. It adds an aesthetic touch to the original product while giving it a higher value and quality.
V for VINTAGE

Old is the new cool. And, new-age Indian brands like Carol’s Shop, Bodements, weardisco.very and Grandma Would Approve, among many others, promise to give you fresh outfit inspiration for the age-old problemcalled called ‘I have nothing to wear’ with sumptuous-looking vintage clothing.
W for #WHOMADEMYCLOTHES

After the collapse of the Rana Plaza building five years ago, Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers started a global movement called ‘Who Made My Clothes.’ With this simple hashtag, a consumer can directly urge a brand to take more responsibility and show greater transparency in the supply chain.
X for THE XXL TREE PLANTATION PROJECT

YouTube philanthropist, popularly known as Mr Beast, started one of the biggest tree-plantation fundraising challenges. More than 600 YouTubers teamed up with him to raise Rs.1.5 bn in order to plant 20 million trees.
Y for YOUTH FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

The world keeps bemoaning the excessive use of screens, social media and an alleged sense of self-absorption by Gen Z. However, according to Amnesty International, climate change is one of the most pressing issues for Generation Z. #FridaysForFuture, for instance, is a worldwide movement where students participate in strikes every Friday and protest for climate change. Plus, organisations like The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) is a network of young people in 18 states who tackle climate change and environmental issues.
Z for ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE

Here’s how you can do good for the environment:
• Carry a jute or a cloth bag instead of a plastic bag while shopping for groceries.
• Buy secondhand clothes. Gwyneth Paltrow repeated a vintage Valentino gown from 1963 at the 2019 Emmy’s. 
• Make a compost pit with your waste in your garden or a big compost bin if you don’t have a garden.
• Use mason jars, glass or metal products to store food.
• Avoid plastic spoons, forks and straws while you order food online.