S-l-o-w Fashion

I’m in the midst of taking a series of classes right now called “A Passion for Fashion”; run by the Toronto Fashion Incubator, the classes are focused on helping young entrepreneurs get their budding fashion-based business off the ground.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a class that discussed the process of getting pieces from the conceptual phase to the clothing rack in brick-and-mortar shops. Halfway through the class I started to get a little flustered. It all seemed so disorientingly fast - the high-pressure deadlines, the quick collection turnaround, the competition with other, massive retailers for the next big thing… I felt like I was lagging so far behind, with no idea how to begin to catch up.  

And then it occured to me: Fast fashion is the exact opposite of what I aspire to with Azki Jewelry. The idea of slow fashion is exactly what drew me to Etsy in the first place, all those years ago, and continues to inspire me today.

Fast fashion says, you design things, and then you outsource your manufacturing for speed and lower production costs. Slow fashion says, you make things yourself, carefully, deliberately, one piece at a time, and you charge a fair price for those things.

Fast fashion says, you make your money based on volume of sales, so you need to reach and cater to a large audience. Slow fashion says, you are selling to one person at a time, and your focus is on individual needs, preferences, joys.

Fast fashion says, you must cater to ever-shorter attention spans with new collections every three to six weeks, always staying on-trend. Slow fashion says, good quality, classic pieces never go out of style; base your designs around the assumption that your customers will wear these pieces over several months, years, even decades. Spend the time necessary to ensure that level of quality.

Fast fashion says, production of a piece involves so many different people in so many different places that it is impossible for the end user to trace things back to any one individual. Slow fashion says, makers are easily accessible to customers; in my case, directly - via Etsy, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email, even in person for local custom requests.

Fast fashion says, mark up your prices six-fold, then offer discounts to entice customers. Slow fashion says, charge what’s fair. Always.

Fast fashion says, you are selling a product. Slow fashion says, you are selling an idea - the idea that the things people wear can be made entirely by someone with a similar standard of living, in an ethical, safe work space, using high quality materials, at a reasonable price.

Fast fashion is alienating. It reduces people’s desires to consumption rather than enjoyment. I strongly believe in slowing things down and running every aspect of my business with integrity - and after years of testing this theory, I can say with certainty that this results in better products, too.

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