wear slow, live slow
This is a blog about slowing down. In our fashion, our homes, our lives.
It’s a dark evening during the record-breaking cold of early 2017, and I’m peacefully settling into a hot bath. A candle is lit, a mug of tea sits steaming beside me, and my glowing laptop is ready to play ‘The True Cost,’ a documentary about the fast fashion industry. A friend had recommended it to me. As the film plays, my pulse begins to race – and not just because of how hot the bath is. I am in shock. I am introduced to women and men, with names and faces, who sew and pick the cotton for my clothes in inhumane conditions. Though many of us don't realize it, our purchases enable the exploitation of women and men as they toil to make our garments faster and cheaper. The documentary continues, and I know with absolute certainty that I cannot continue shopping the way I have. It will mean giving up the brands I had recently fallen in love with -- but no matter. Human beings will always be a higher priority than clothes.
As you read my blog, please remember that encouraging you to shop more is the furthest thing from my mind. Buy the ethical garment I'm featuring, if you wish (please see the note further down for my definition of ethical). If your wardrobe needs an additional piece, I hope that I can introduce you to some great options. But that’s not entirely what this is about. My blog is founded on the belief that life is so much more than the clothes we wear. My own closet is small and has plenty of gaps, but that's because I am more passionate about a life well lived, sparkling and vibrant and slow and courageous and content with less. I desire to see us set free from a consumerist mindset – a mindset that created this destructive thing we call fast fashion -- so we can not only relax and discover tremendous joy in our lives and closets, but that we would be inspired to put other human beings above our personal image. That we would care about the man or woman who made our clothes and demand that fair treatment and fair wages be the norm. And it won’t be the norm until our hunger for more, cheaper fashion shifts to a longing for something deeper.
Slow living and slow fashion go hand in hand. Slow fashion is a return to the way clothing used to be manufactured even just a few decades ago: thoughtfully, more slowly, with intention, and a higher price point because employees were paid a living wage and quality materials were used. In the same vein, slow living is to live with intention, to deliberately simplify one's life in order to make time for the things that matter. To find joy in the little things, to appreciate things done well and made well. But slow living looks different depending on who you ask. To some, it's slow coffee or slow food; to others, it's minimalism; to others, it's having a laid-back schedule.
I believe that everyone can and should pursue a form of slow living, but I also believe that some people are more naturally bent towards it – myself being one of them. That's not to say I never succumb to busyness; I just need long stretches of quiet in order to function. But that is merely one aspect of slow living; another is finding magic in the mundane, deriving pleasure from the little things in life. People find it a bit quirky or silly, but some of the things that give me the biggest thrill are a thoughtfully-designed shop interior, a well-crafted London Fog latte, a lyrical line from a novel, a bubble tea café, or a particular kind of sunlight. I’ll take a quiet day spent with those things over a big adventure. So slow living is an inherent part of who I am, but I also want to help others discover how to weave its principles into their own lives, to enjoy the benefits that come with simplifying and living with intention.
Much of what I believe about life has its origins in my faith. I believe that Christ came to free us from the tiring pursuit of trying to be good enough. From trying to find worth and purpose in what our life looks like or what we do. I believe in a grace so deep and reckless, that it came into the world to say that despite our shortcomings, we are enough; we are loved. We don’t have to strive out of fear or insecurity or anything else, because we are covered by One who was perfect – one who took on the deserved consequences of humanity’s unkindness and oppression and hate in our place – for each of us, regardless of race or gender or history or age or accomplishment. One that showed us how to love even those who reject us, to sacrifice for those who can give us nothing in return. Which is why I believe in slow living and slow fashion. Slow living, because there is now no perfection to strive for, no competition to keep up with. Slow fashion, because that Love would see no one under oppression, that would see every life treated with dignity, that would gladly give things up for those who need to be set free.
I know that my stance is not a popular one. But my greatest hope is that this would be the generation to begin reversing the damage we have done in the fashion industry, in our harried and materialistic lives, and in our futures. We won’t begin to accomplish this until our collective mindset changes. So thanks for reading this far, and I hope we can continue this journey side by side. I’m excited to see where it goes.
A note about ethical fashion:
'Ethical fashion' means different things to different people. Some focus more on the environmental ramifications of garment production, others on whether or not animal products are used. I believe both are equally important. However, the aspect of 'ethical' that I try to focus the most on is the working conditions of the people who make the garments. If oppression or abuse or exploitation is a part of the process, I don't want to support that brand. I want to know who is making my clothes, where they work, if they are receiving a true living wage, and if the brands themselves are visiting the factories and have a good relationship with them (not just hiring third party contractors to do it). However, at this point, it is very difficult to ensure 100% ethical practices at every step along the supply chain. We can only do our own research, and try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have. Sometimes it means choosing the lesser of two evils. What ethical means, and what brands are truly ethical, are questions that are part of an open and ongoing dialogue I hope this blog will foster. So please chat with me and other people visiting the blog, but be kind and respectful, and bear in mind that we all have the best intentions.