“Slow fashion” is a sustainable and ethical alternative that is fundamentally reconstructing the contemporary fast-fashion system. Slow-fashion principles guide my textile-based label, Slow Palette by Jessica Robertson, within which I create pieces that transform consumption and disposal habits. Our planet and workforce are already stretched at the seams; to go faster is not the option.

Slow Palette, Jessica Robertson, A Bit Slow, slow fashion, locavore fashion, Australia, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer, eco-fashion designers, eco-friendly designers, green designers

SLOW AND STEADY

In the same way that the slow-food movement is the antidote to fast food, slow fashion is the alternative to fast fashion.

In the way that slow food is the antidote to fast food, slow fashion is the alternative to fast fashion.

Fast fashion involves high speed and high volume production, consumption, and disposal. It’s a system where the consumer is intentionally alienated and veiled from the real production processes, particularly the negative ethical and environmental impacts. This cultivates a passive consumer who happily consumes at alarming rates, most of which heads straight to landfill. I see this linear process as futile and uninspiring as a designer.

Slow Palette, Jessica Robertson, A Bit Slow, slow fashion, locavore fashion, Australia, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer, eco-fashion designers, eco-friendly designers, green designers

LOCAVORE FASHION

Slow-fashion design is environmentally and socially responsible because it utilizes local materials, suppliers, and producers while honoring traditional skills and knowledge. I produce textiles using regionally appropriate materials such as wool and angora fur from a local supplier who passes on knowledge of the raw materials.

I produce textiles using wool and angora fur from a local supplier.

I’m currently working with some of the last wool to be processed in Australia from Fletcher in rural New South Wales. All of Australia’s wool is now processed offshore—a major transformation for a country that “rode on the sheep’s back”—so I am reverential about my use of this wool and, consequently, design and make pieces that will be cared for and valued by the wearer instead of becoming obsolete waste within weeks.

All of my designs are handmade with minimal material waste, either by myself or a local dressmaker. In this way, I’ve been able to create garments with low energy use, resulting in a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

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Slow Palette, Jessica Robertson, A Bit Slow, slow fashion, locavore fashion, Australia, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer, eco-fashion designers, eco-friendly designers, green designers

BEING TRANSPARENT

By being part of all the processes (sourcing materials, design, and production), I openly transfer this information to the consumer, revealing what the fast-fashion industry intentionally conceals. In Sustainable Fashion & Textile: Design Journeys, author Kate Fletcher writes that the textile and garment industry scores worse than any other on the U.K. Environmental Agency’s pollution risk assessment.

Increased consumer awareness can only engender greater value in each product.

“Further,” she adds, “it is linked to a litany of labour abuses including poverty wages, excessive working hours, forced overtime, lack of job security, and denial of union rights.”

Increased consumer awareness can only engender greater value in each product and the way we relate to it. With this in mind, I’ve held textile workshops to extend public knowledge of my processes and engage people in conversation. Additionally, extensive information is available on each Slow Palette piece or by reaching out directly to me. It’s my hope that the consumer will have a greater connection and sense of value based on this knowledge.

Slow Palette, Jessica Robertson, A Bit Slow, slow fashion, locavore fashion, Australia, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer, eco-fashion designers, eco-friendly designers, green designers

GETTING CO-DESIGNY

The relationship between designer, garment, and wearer acknowledges how participation enables responsible consumption behavior and valorization. By linking products and their producers with the end user, the consumer becomes part of the production chain and, by extension, a co-producer.

By making the end user a part of the production chain, the consumer becomes a co-producer.

This user-centered practice heightens the relationship and emotional longevity between wearer and garment. I created a recent Slow Palette garment, for instance, with modular components that the wearer can reformulate according to her personal aesthetic. Using press studs, the pieces can be arranged to make various garments such as scarves, tops, skirts, and pants. This empowers the wearer and alters their usual position as a passive
consumer.

Slow fashion challenges apathy by directing designers and consumers towards a revised system of sustainable practice, fashioning a more sustainable industry. For more suggestions on how designers and consumers can be a bit “slower,” visit myself and my fellow slow-design collaborators at A Bit Slow.

+ Slow Palette by Jessica Robertson

+ A Bit Slow