Fashion is fast. It’s no secret. But the never-ending sale cycle has an environmental impact that’s still a taboo topic in the industry, says Good Studios designer Anny Duff.
After launching as a hugely successful sideshow to the 2017 Adelaide Fashion Festival (AFF), Slow joins the main program this year. It’s a move that demonstrates a major shift in the industry; AFF director Chris Kontos is enthusiastically taking the values of Slow to an international platform. “That’s what we wanted – to make sure that we can help spread the word more effectively,” he says.
Fashion manufacturing uses an enormous amount of resources and energy, from production to transportation to micro plastics found in synthetic fabrics. Slow is an antidote to the fast-paced, sale-cycle industry dominated by seasonal trends that ultimately become dead stock.
It’s about “honouring the process” that makes the clothes we wear, says Duff. “We know that we’re not going to solve the problem overnight, but to have a conversation about it is the first step.”
But for Kontos, that conversation has already spurred big action. “We’re not just talking about it, we’re not just giving a nod to it, we’re encasing it into our entire festival week.”
Changes have been made to reduce waste and minimise the festival’s environmental footprint. “For me, it’s been a game changer, to be perfectly frank,” he says. “It’s actually evolved into the entire festival.”
Slow Saturday is on October 20 at the Torrens Parade Grounds. The runway will combine designer couture with vintage pieces and repurposed dead stock as styled by Vogue fashion editor Philippa Moroney. The event will be launched by Vogue sustainability editor-at-large Clare Press.
“It looks unbelievable. It looks like something out of Paris,” says Kontos, stressing that, “it’s not about pulling out your mum’s daggy old vintage clothes”. This is a curated collection of elegant fashion that illustrates the possibilities of sustainable styling.
“We literally hacked at a Keepsake dress that has been sitting in the closet at [Australian Fashion Labels] for six months,” says Kontos. “We walked away going, ‘That looks unbelievable’.” Another piece is a bellowing denim couture blouse repurposed from dead-stock jeans.
“Unless each person is buying a thousand pieces each year, there’s going to be dead stock in the world,” says Duff. But there are things you can do to reduce your own environmental footprint. Mending and alteration can freshen unworn pieces, says Duff. “Even just learning to sew a button back on … can give life to something for many, many years.
“Vintage is a great way [to shop] because it’s completely carbon neutral.”
And if you do choose to purchase brand new, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions about sustainability and supply chain. Natural fibres such as silk, linen and cotton can mean a piece will biodegrade at the end of its life, and a high-quality, tailored piece lasts years longer than a cheap one.
Long-term, Duff hopes that fast fashion will fall out of style, and there will be a “coming home” to shopping and dressing more classically.
It’s an ethos exemplified by the Slow team, which between them uses sustainable and recycled materials such as hemp linen (Good Studios), discarded fabrics and offcuts (Re-Swim Club) and re-homed vintage clothes (The Commons).
On Slow Saturday, their pieces will be shown alongside major labels such as KitX, Bianca Spender and Nobody Denim, and emerging brands Autark, Kalaurie, A. BCH, Home Job, From Found, Olivia Kathigitis and B.B. Shoemaker.
The event will finish with a three-course lunch by chef and sustainability champion Simon Bryant with wines from Wick Estate. From cutlery and crockery, to greenery and floristry by Emma Sadie Thomson (EST), everything will have sustainability in mind.
Slow Saturday is at 11.30am on October 20 at the Torrens Parade Grounds. Tickets are $120 and include a three-course lunch. Tickets are available online.