Slow Fashion October: Thinking About Fast Fashion, Ethical Materials And Minimalism

Mildly obsessed is the only way I can describe my attachment to knitting and sewing. I’m in deep with those two, and occasionally dabble with weaving and crochet. In short, I love textiles.

I started thinking about my consumption of mass goods more than 10 years ago after learning the disturbing working conditions for garment factory workers. Far from a new truthin fact, it was more than a decade since the world heard their Nikes were made for 14 cents an hour. Like the people who knew about that, I didn't do much about those thoughts.

Then Rana Plaza happened. Seeing the images from Bangladesh two years ago, I felt sick and disturbed...and somehow, partially responsible. After all, the garments found in the collapsed factory were for stores that I’d supported. Those images still haunt me, and I can't look at another "Made in Bangladesh" tag the same way.

A collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh killed over 1,100 people, sending CBC correspondent Susan Ormiston to find out who really deserves the blame.

Again, it rested on my mind. This year, I decided to try something. I would avoid buying clothes (with the exception of a bridesmaid dress). Ten months in, I’m still going strong and it’s really opened my eyes to how pervasive the #fastfashion world has become.

In doing this, I realized I didn't need quite as much clothing as I thought I did. Instead, my sewing and knitting has become more purposeful. Early this year, I realized I needed a few more shirts to fit my body after some weight gain. So I made them. I appreciate these garmentshowever basic they aremuch more than any store-bought item I own, and wear them with quiet pride.

It’s also got me more engaged on the issues. I'm in the middle of reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and recently watched The True Cost documentary, learning just how complex and layered the problem isfrom poor labour conditions to dramatic environmental repercussions.

A documentary that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

Now I'm trying to figure out where I fit into this discussion and how I will move it forward.

This month, I'd like to learn how other makers feel about the slow/fast fashion world. Start the conversation with those nearest and dearest to me, my friends and family. Finally, learn more about the materials I've been sourcing for my own handmade projects.

Thank you for starting this forum, Karen Templer!

Looking forward to reading all your stories.