July 16, 2024

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How To Shop More Mindfully

8 min read

Living in a fast-paced world, shopping is just another thing we do at speed. We’re all guilty of making impulsive purchases for our wardrobes, but it’s a habit we can break. Introducing slow fashion…

More considerate of the environment and more economical, slow fashion is about being intentional and thoughtful in your clothing choices. Our no-nonsense guide to slow fashion has it all explained.

What is slow fashion?

In short, it’s the opposite of fast fashion (the rapid production of trend-led clothes, often made cheaply and shipped all over the world). Slow fashion focuses on mindful consumption with an emphasis on opting for more sustainably made clothing options, plus repairing, re-wearing and recycling our clothes.

Instead of repeatedly buying clothes based on micro-trends and then discarding or replacing them, slow fashion encourages us to shop with intent, and where possible to buy less and buy better. This could be through investing in a high-quality staple piece that’ll last for years or opting for made-to-order pieces.

It’s not a new term. In a 2007 article for The Ecologist, Kate Fletcher (sustainability pioneer, design activist, writer, nature enthusiast and research professor), summarised slow fashion as: “Designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components).

“Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.”

slow fashionpinterest
Catherine McQueen//Getty Images

Slow fashion doesn’t have to be complicated.

What are the principles of slow fashion?

There’s a consensus on what slow fashion is, and Earth.Org describes it as:

  1. Opting for quality over quantity (both in production and consumption).
  2. More sustainable manufacturing processes.
  3. A living wage and healthy working conditions for those making the clothes.
  4. Selling clothes on a made-to-order basis to avoid waste. Alternatively, only creating collections in small batches.
  5. A supply chain that uses locally sourced and produced garments.
  6. A transparent supply chain and practices.
  7. Using natural fibres, deadstock fabrics, or old textiles for upcycling.

What are the benefits of slow fashion?

To name a few: Reduce textile waste and pollution, wear higher-quality garments with longer lifespans, send fewer clothes heading to landfills and waste less water.

Shopping for new clothes with slow fashion brands often helps to support small, independent and artisan businesses, too. Workers (and their skills) are better compensated and have better working conditions.

“Slow fashion, with the shift from quantity to quality, takes the pressure off time,” explains Kate Fletcher. “It allows suppliers to plan orders, predict the numbers of workers needed and invest in the longer term.”

tailor working with sewing machine, close uppinterest
Guido Mieth//Getty Images

Even repairing your existing clothes can be a step in your slow fashion journey.

How can I try slow fashion?

Tip 1: Shop with intention

        Studies show that consumers don’t wear 50% of the clothes they own. Our wardrobes are bursting with unloved pieces and poorly thought-out purchases. Shopping mindfully is the easiest (and cheapest) way of adopting a slow fashion mindset.

        When buying new clothes, pause before purchasing. Ask yourself:

        1. Will I like this in a year?
        2. How many times/occasions will I wear this?
        3. Does this work alongside the rest of my wardrobe?
        4. Does the quality suggest longevity?
        5. How and where was it made?
        6. Does the brand have good environmental and social values?

        Tip 2: Take care of your clothes

        That doesn’t only mean washing your clothes on the correct heat setting. Try to repair your clothes as much as possible. YouTube is a brilliant resource for learning basic sewing skills. For more complicated alterations, visit a local tailor or seamstress.

        You can also dye stained clothes, de-bobble old jumpers and fleeces and learn how to properly care for more tricky fabrics (such as wool and silk).

        Tip 3: Buy second-hand clothing

        A great place to start is online marketplaces like eBay, Vinted, Depop and Vestaire. Etsy is also a brilliant place to find unique vintage pieces. For occasions that require something showstopping, consider a dress rental service such as Hurr or By Rotation.

        If you prefer to shop in person, don’t neglect the humble charity shop – a goldmine of budget-friendly clothes. Car boot sales are also worth a rummage.

        We also recommend hosting a clothes swap with friends as a great way to catch up while finding a new outfit or two.

        Tip 4: Shop with small businesses

        Small, artisan businesses offer unique, high-quality fashion that can’t be found anywhere else. They also usually offer small collections (avoiding unnecessary waste) or can make their pieces on a made-to-order basis. This is particularly handy if you find that clothes offered by high street brands don’t quite match up to your measurements.

        Visiting brands in person is a brilliant way of starting your slow fashion journey, as it allows you to find out more about their creative process and materials. You can shop our favourite artisans at the Country Living Pavilions, which will be at three prestigious summer events in 2024, including the RHS flower shows and two of the UK’s most popular horse trials.


        9 slow fashion brands you need to know about

        The Country Living Marketplace is home to a brilliant selection of slow fashion brands and makers, ranging from womenswear to accessories.

        Withnell

        jack sanded canvas jacket
        joan dungarees in sanded canvas

        Withnell
        Joan Dungarees in Sanded Canvas, Withnell 

        From her home studio in Lancashire, Paula creates wonderful handmade garments for ladies and girls using a lovely range of natural fabrics, threads and trims. Her timeless designs are made to be cherished for years to come and use materials such as Irish linen to natural corozo buttons from Gloucestershire.

        Not only are all of Paula’s designs made to order, but she also welcomes custom orders, so you’re guaranteed the perfect fit. Better still, every garment comes with a unique repair kit for any everyday wear and tear.

        SHOP NOW

        Holme & Moss

        padded knot headband
        liberty classic knot headband capel g print

        Run by mother and daughter duo, Kate and Anna, Home&Moss create beautiful hair accessories, each made from Liberty of London fabric. Lovingly made in West Yorkshire, each piece is made by hand, from sketching and pattern cutting to the very last stitch.

        Their use of high-quality fabrics such as cotton and silk ensures their designs are made to last. Plus, all of their products are handmade to order, so nothing goes to waste.

        NoLogoChic

        hand printed nightshirt

        Country Living Marketplace
        hand printed cotton kimono robe

        Country Living Marketplace

        Designed by multi-award-winning designer, Tina-Marie Malhamé, NoLogoChic’s beautiful linen and cotton womenswear is cut to flatter and fit perfectly. Because they are made from natural fibres, each piece is breathable and comfortable.

        As a brand, they only partner with suppliers who care and contribute to a sustainable future, pay fair wages and provide comfortable working conditions. By working with pure fibres that are indigenous to India (and biodegradable), they continue to reduce their carbon footprint. Plus, every scrap of cloth is used – off-cuts made into hangers, notebooks, wash bags and swing tickets.

        Charl Knitwear

        harrison crew neck gansey jumper

        Country Living Marketplace
        rook shawl collar cardigan

        Country Living Marketplace

        This cosy, high-quality knitwear draws inspiration from the stitches and stories found in the Norfolk fishermen’s Gansey jumpers, reimagined into contemporary British styles by experienced knitwear designer and brand founder, Frankie Davies.

        Sustainability is a cornerstone of the collection, with half of the pieces knitted in Nottinghamshire, giving them a carbon footprint of less than 125 miles from fleece to finished knit. The other pieces in the collection are knitted from British wool in Perugia, Italy, in a family-owned and run knitwear atelier.

        All buttons, labels and trims are made from natural materials, making each piece fully recyclable and biodegradable.

        Fruitbat Textiles

        winter falls graduating british lambswool regular scarf

        Country Living Marketplace
        clover fields herringbone stripe british wool small scarf

        Country Living Marketplace

        Fruitbat Textiles specialises in creating hand-dyed and woven British wool accessories for men and women. Each piece is meticulously hand-crafted by Charlotte, who draws inspiration from the serene landscapes of the South West countryside.

        Using traditional techniques to create one-of-a-kind pieces, Charlotte pours her heart and soul into every piece, ensuring that each accessory not only showcases her expertise but also reflects her love for the craft and the countryside.

        Cara & The Sky

        bella cable high neck knit jumper burnt orange

        Country Living Marketplace
        becca mono sleeve belted long cardigan

        Country Living Marketplace

        Cara & The Sky is an independent British brand with a positive outlook on life, producing colourful knitwear right here in the UK. All of their designs have been developed in-house by their founder Cara and are unique to the brand.

        Everything is designed and made in the UK, and they use a SEDEX-approved manufacturer based in Leicester, which ensures that their workers are paid a fair wage and work in safe environments.

        They chose to manufacture in the UK to support the UK-made fashion industry and reduce the carbon footprint of their garments.

        British Boxers

        brushed cotton dressing gown

        Country Living Marketplace
        brushed cotton dressing gown

        Country Living Marketplace

        British Boxers creates classic underwear and loungewear using beautiful fabrics, prioritising quality and style that stands the test of time. They say: “Our products are built to last and are made with an emphasis on slow fashion that’s better for everyone involved.”

        Nearly all of their clothing is manufactured with minimal waste in the UK and Europe, at factories where people are not only highly skilled but paid properly, too. Very occasionally, they manufacture further afield – but only if they’re satisfied that a factory is doing something very good in the world (such as their amazing felted slippers made by a women’s collective in Nepal).

        Cécile Jeffrey

        cj geo cardi

        Country Living Marketplace
        cj merino wool melange scarf in palma

        Country Living Marketplace

        Cécile Jeffrey is a family-run, luxury knitwear business, based in South West London. It was originally launched in 1982 as a stall in Camden Market. They create elegant knitwear from the finest, 100% natural Italian yarns. These yarns are sourced from companies with a certificate of sustainability; they work with nature’s cycle to promote better, healthier working conditions for all – including the sheep!

        The team produce garments and accessories in small batches, and each piece is timeless, rather than trend-driven, meaning it’ll never go out of fashion. Each item is fully fashioned, meaning that each structured piece is knitted separately before being linked together and then finished by hand. The result is minimal waste and maximum style.

        The Little Blazer Company

        hope rainbow tweed blazer

        Country Living Marketplace
        dynamic dinosaur

        Country Living Marketplace

        The Little Blazer Company is the first gender-neutral British luxury kidswear label. Each stylish creation is made in the UK, using the absolute best of British craftsmanship.

        By sourcing and making locally, their carbon footprint is as small as possible. They use factories based in the UK with the highest ethical standards, ensuring the people who make their blazers are treated respectfully for their skills.

        Each blazer is crafted from Harris Tweed, UK farmed 100% pure new wool, then lined in vegan satin. These heirloom garments are made to last, with the hope that each blazer will be lovingly passed down through generations.

        SHOP NOW

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