Slow fashion encourages the careful consideration of what we bring into our closets, the deep satisfaction of making or owning garments of quality, and extending the life of what we have already loved to pieces. It offers the opportunity to creatively express yourself which is at the heart of making itself.
In Part I of this series, you heard members of the Brooklyn Tweed team talk about their personal thoughts on the subject. Expanding upon those ideas, we compiled the following practical tips for anyone who is interested in slow fashion and is curious about how or where to begin.
Identify your personal style: Having a clear idea of what types of clothing you want to wear, including its fiber content and color palette, will help you identify your personal style and inform your choices on what to knit and how to assemble your wardrobe. Taking time to identify your personal style will make it easier to build a long-lasting wardrobe and avoid impulse purchases that won’t get much wear.
Create a vision for your wardrobe as a whole: Perhaps the most powerful way to take control of your wardrobe is to think of it holistically. When you plan your wardrobe as a whole, you can intentionally decide what your next project will be based on what type of garment will complement your existing, or ideal, wardrobe. Building a wardrobe with your personal style in mind will also help ensure you’re making garments that will flatter your body and inspire you to wear them with confidence.
To help plan your wardrobe, take the gauge swatches from sweaters and accessories you’ve made with you while shopping to help select yarn or fabrics in colors or prints that will coordinate across those knit garments. (If you’re new to swatching, read our Swatching 101 post here.) If you are shopping for ready-to-wear, look for pieces you can expect to wear a minimum of 30, 40, or even 50 times. (Raise your hand if you’ve joined the KonMari bandwagon!) By being intentional about what we bring into our homes, whether ready-made clothing or what’s being cast onto our needles, we can simultaneously eliminate waste and ensure we will find both joy and usefulness in what we create and wear.
Make “capsule” items you’ll wear for years to come: When pondering what to knit next, consider functional, classic garments that never go out of style. Think Aran cabling, Gansey pullovers, shawl-collar cardigans, and accessories such as watchcaps and go-with-anything cowls and scarves. When knitting or sewing wardrobe staples, make the most of your time and resources by creating items of clothing that you know will see years of use.
Consider the source of your materials: Take time to know the origins of your fiber. By working with sustainable materials, you can ensure you are supporting the environment as well as the people who work to bring the fiber to your hands. Wool sorted by breed — aka breed-specific wool — provides farmers with a higher wage than fibers that are sold to be jumbled together across breeds, and preserves the breeding stock of sheep that will continue to provide fiber for years to come.
Reclaim yarn from sweaters you already have: Your next project need not require the purchase of new yarn. Sweaters that you either already have in your closet or find secondhand offer the opportunity to give fibers another life. Perhaps you have wool languishing away in a UFO at the bottom of your knitting basket that you can unravel, wash, and recast as another garment that will give you greater joy while knitting and wearing. If you have a handknit sweater that doesn’t fit quite right or that no longer suits your style, but you can’t bear to part with it, reclaim the yarn for a new project.
Start Small: Slow fashion, and the idea of making your own clothing, may seem overwhelming at first but it need not feel insurmountable. By following some or all of the steps above, we can each engage with the movement in ways that work for us as individuals, all the while adding enjoyment to our lives. There’s no need to knit or sew your entire wardrobe or go to great expense in order to participate in slow fashion. Start small by wearing one thing you have made every day. Accessories can be key here — a good, classic hat or scarf can carry you through the seasons. If you enjoy the process of making, you can slowly add to your handknit wardrobe one piece at a time and simultaneously express your creativity each and every day.
Join a community of crafters to learn and share knowledge about hand making clothing. Share your knowledge with one another through knitting groups or meet-ups designed to encourage learning more about your craft and making clothing. Local yarn stores, fabric stores, and crafting guilds are great sources for such gatherings. There are also robust communities online where you can connect with people with similar interests, such as Ravelry for knitters.
In closing, always keep in mind that the slow fashion movement comes from the desire to take control over how we clothe our bodies and is a non-judgmental process that originates with the individual, not from external forces. Just as the slow food movement taught us to take time to savor both the process and the product, slow fashion offers us makers the opportunity to thoughtfully consider how we wish to express ourselves through our creations. By being mindful about the materials we work with as well as the products we create, we can have a literal hand in how we both move through and impact our world day by day.
Thank you for joining us this month in our series focused on slow fashion. From hearing thoughts about slow fashion from members of the BT team to reading about how we incorporate slow fashion principles into our business to learning some tips about how to bring slow fashion aspects into your own daily practice, we hope you have found some nuggets of inspiration in these recent posts focused on the process and product of making.
We invite you to share with us below your own thoughts and comments about the slow fashion movement. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!