Slow Your Fashion

by Alissa

1st grade photo of me wearing a dress my mother made

1st grade photo of me wearing a dress my mother made

My life is, admittedly, detached from the effort it takes to make the clothing I wear.  I wonder about it, but not as often as I could.  Who made this skirt?  How much did that person get paid?  Probably not enough  What happened to the fabric scraps?  How long did it take to create my favorite jacket or that well-loved shirt?  What should these items have cost me?

When I was a girl, I remember my mother sewing outfits for me.  At that age, I didn’t fully appreciate the time and talent she put into those clothes.  They weren’t fancy, but neither was I.  The clothes she sewed for my sister and me were simple, well-constructed, and made by loving hands.  When sewing, she would call me to pause my playtime and have the items fitted.  It was a familiar part of the process.  I remember delicately sliding on the half-sewn garments to avoid sticking myself with the many pins holding the seams together.  Then, after my mom inspected her handiwork, I’d hand the garment over to her and bounce away to finish whatever activity I was in the middle of.  After a good span of time, I had cute new clothes to wear and I felt so proud that my mom had made them.  I even remember her making matching headbands one time, which I thought was pretty special.

There was a time when everyone’s clothes would have been meticulously made my loving hands.  There was a time when the true cost of clothing was well understood and appreciated.  It was known to be a time-consuming craft, therefore people owned less clothing.  Those days are, for the most part, distant memories.  We’ve been seduced into thinking that clothing is cheap and should be replaced often.  Many of us have becomes slaves to fast fashion and low prices, which come at a cost.  We’ve bought into the lie that we can find fulfillment in over-stuffed walk-in closets and designer labels.  I find hope when I hear about people like designer, Carin Mansfield, who is promoting “slow fashion”.  Her clothing pieces are not made in an assembly line in some distant factory for pennies an hour.  Rather, they are made individually by artisans right in her London shop.  They are made to last.  The price tags reflect the craftsmanship put into her clothes.  She says that stores today “have given people a false sense of actually how much work goes into garment making”.  That is so true.  Can everyone afford to buy her clothes?  No, but we can learn from her example.  We can become more mindful when shopping and stop to reflect on who made those clothes and at what cost.  Thank you Carin Mansfield for encouraging us all to slow down.