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  • Writer's pictureEveline Vouillemin

In conversation with Jessica: Embracing the slow fashion movement

Jessica, a passionate advocate for sustainable fashion, sheds light on the importance of mindful clothing choices and the transformative impact they can have on our planet.

Jessica with a jacket and bag in front of a yellow wall.

There's a growing movement towards embracing slow fashion as a means to reduce our environmental footprint and promote sustainability.

In this exclusive interview, Slow Fashion Jessica shares her insights, challenges the norms of consumerism, and offers practical advice for individuals seeking to make more conscious decisions in their wardrobe selections.

Join us as we delve into the realm of slow fashion and explore how each choice we make can contribute to a more sustainable future.

What initially sparked your interest in slow fashion?

I found my way into slow fashion through Instagram back in 2019. I’d always enjoyed popping to my local charity shops and rummaging through a good market, but in my early twenties, I was more focused on seeing what new collection Zara had dropped that week.

Whilst studying on a post-graduate course that summer, I wanted a creative outlet and started posting about the clothes I had found second hand. It was there that I discovered a growing community of other bloggers/content creators sharing their pre-loved outfits.

Inspired by this momentum, I started switching to second hand choices more often, and became increasingly aware that this wasn’t just a fun hobby for a Saturday afternoon – it was also a more ethical and sustainable way to consume fashion.

How do you define slow/sustainable fashion, and what principles do you prioritise when curating your wardrobe?

In short, slow fashion is the antithesis of fast fashion. More broadly, I think slow fashion is a drive to engage with fashion in a more considerate way for people and the planet. In practice, for me, this means:

1. Building an understanding of where my clothes come from, who makes them, and the social and environmental impact of that process.

2. Taking care of the clothes I already own by wearing them and caring for them.

3. Slowing down the pace of my fashion consumption.

4. Discovering alternative ways to buy fashion that isn’t buying new.

5. Letting go of clothes I no longer want in a more conscious way.

The core principle I follow is “second hand first”. This means that whenever I buy clothes, (and increasingly, homewares, stationery, storage and more) I always start by looking on the re-sale market first. In most cases, this is where the search ends.

More recently, my focus has been on learning more about my personal style and my clothing priorities. My aim is to have a smaller wardrobe that’s timeless, durable and makes getting dressed more intuitive every day – I’m still working on it!

In your opinion, what are the most significant environmental and social impacts of fast fashion, and how can individuals contribute to mitigating these issues through their fashion choices?

I think for a while, the fashion industry slipped under our radar as one of the biggest contributors to climate change and social injustice. I’ll share some facts that shocked me into making a more conscious decision to follow slow fashion:

  • Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined (House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2019).

  • Out of seventy-one leading retailers in the UK, 77% believe that there is a likelihood of forced labour occurring at some point in their supply chains (Hult Research and Ethical Trading Initiative, Corporate Leadership on Modern Slavery, 2016 – via Lauren Bravo, How to Break up with Fast Fashion).

  • Around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year, ultimately sent to landfill or incinerators (House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2019).

The issue is systemic, but I don’t think that should discourage us from playing our part individually where we can. Even switching a few clothing purchases per year to second hand, mending a piece of clothing rather than buying new, and rehoming clothes rather than sending them to landfill, would have a huge impact to our individual footprint.

Buying second-hand has gained in popularity as a sustainable practice. What strategies do you use to find unique and quality second-hand items, and how do you showcase them in your content?

There are so many places to find preloved clothes, from resale apps, to charity shops, consignment stores and car boot sales.

If I’m looking for a specific item to fill a place in my wardrobe, I often head to the resale apps. I experiment with different key words to start my search and catch all the different ways that sellers might have listed it.

Then, I make use of the filters to narrow my search according to the sizes, colours, and price range I’m looking for. I usually give it a few days to let the algorithm do some work for me in the background – most apps have a “recommended for you” section that will start suggesting the sorts of clothes you might be interested in.

When I feel like more of a browse, I usually make a day of it and head to a line of charity shops on the high street. I love a good charity shop mooch, and I’ve found some of my favourite pieces tucked between the rails. I think it’s always worth putting together a “thrift list” in advance so you stick to a plan and avoid overfilling your wardrobe.

In my Instagram posts I like to show people that you can have fun building a stylish and wearable wardrobe from second hand clothes. I love mixing someone’s old high street pieces with more eclectic vintage finds and showcasing them in daily outfit posts.

You are currently doing the #75hardstylechallenge. Can you explain what that is and what it has taught you?

Yes, I’m loving it! The “75 hard style challenge” is loosely based on the theme of the original “75 hard challenge”, which is a rather intense diet/exercise/self-help focused challenge. The fashion version is much more up my street. The challenge was started by @oldloserinbrooklyn and the fundamental rules are to get dressed every day for 75 days, document your daily outfits in some way, not buy any clothes and organise and clean out your wardrobe.

I feel like I’ve nailed shopping preloved rather than buying new, but I’ve noticed my second hand fashion purchases have ticked up in the last year or two. By taking part in the challenge, I want to reinvigorate the relationship I have with the clothes I already own and counteract that feeling of wanting more.

As of now I’m about 75% of the way through. I’ve really enjoyed refocusing my time on the clothes I already have, without the distraction of adding more to my wardrobe. I’ve learnt more about my personal style and what I tend to gravitate to time and time again.

Documenting my daily outfits has also allowed me to confront how often I can actually wear the clothes I own. It’s made me want to consider annual thresholds to how much I can buy, to maintain a small and considered wardrobe.

Many people associate sustainable fashion with a higher price point. How do you navigate this perception, and what tips do you offer for finding affordable sustainable pieces or alternatives?

We’ve become so used to low-cost fashion in the last two decades, that the price of sustainable fashion feels incredibly high. I think the reality is that when fashion is cheap, the real cost is being borne by someone else, somewhere in the supply chain.

This question requires us to separate the “needs” from the “wants”, which will mean different things to different people. Buying fast fashion items, at a slow rate, might be the best option for someone to get the clothes they need to go about their daily life.

However, as soon as fashion becomes a more recreational activity, I think we have to ask ourselves whether we could be making more ethical choices. This is particularly true for UK consumers, where apparently, we buy more clothes per person than any country in Europe (UK Parliament, Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability).

Sustainable fashion builds in the cost of paying workers fair wages, using more eco-friendly materials, and lowering the environmental impact of the production process. Sustainable fashion is therefore priced higher, but when you build in these elements alongside a long-term cost-per-wear, the price might not sound so high after all.

On the other hand, there are low-cost green options out there. I tend to shop second hand, rather than buying new, sustainable clothes. You quickly see on re-sale apps and in charity shops that there’s plenty of clothes ready to buy for less than £10.

How do you also address the misconception that sustainable fashion is restrictive or lacking in style options?

I think the “sustainable” and “eco” tag lines have garnered a rather beige image for sustainable fashion, but the reality is far from that.

Slow and sustainable fashion is really what you make of it. I see new made-to-wear sustainable fashion brands popping up with loud prints and strong shapes every week on Instagram. Style wise, there really is something for everyone: charity shops are full of eclectic gems to rifle through; second hand resale apps are great for finding someone’s old high street clothes; and consignment stores stock your higher end high street and designer pieces.

I think an area for improvement in the second hand fashion market is for size inclusivity. The mainstream fashion industry isn’t as inclusive as it should be for sizing, and this seems to feed through into the resale market too. Nevertheless, there’s some great initiatives out there – I’ve seen @Roomy on Instagram, described as “London’s first plus size preloved market”.

For physical stores, it’s always great to see when a shop has curated a good selection of sizes and styles, uses size cubes, and has a fitting room. It makes the shopping experience more user friendly and helps people to take home clothes they know they’ll get wear out of.

Fast fashion pushes consumers to buy more and more as each new season or trend comes around. How would you encourage people to break this habit and what can people gain from buying less and shifting their mindset towards slow fashion?

It’s no surprise that we want to buy new things so frequently. We’re surrounded by advertising in every form of media we consume. I think a great way to reduce your consumption is to take a conscious step back.

These are some steps I find helpful to reset my consumption habits:

  • Recognise that social media platforms are increasingly e-commerce spaces and limit your exposure accordingly. Unsubscribe from marketing emails, unfollow fashion brands that don’t promote conscious consumption and mute accounts that only make you want to buy more stuff.

  • Challenge yourself to a “no buy” period of a few weeks/months and use the time to experiment with your wardrobe. The time off might help to break free from that need for “newness”, and instead appreciate the clothes you already love.

  • Before trying a new trend, build in a waiting time before you allow yourself to buy. After a few weeks or so, you might realise you were happy admiring this trend from afar.

The reality is that having more stuff, doesn’t mean we’re going to be happier or more stylish. I like to remind myself of the “paradox of choice”, a behavioural science principle that explores the way in which choice becomes overwhelming (and therefore unhelpful) beyond a certain point.

The key takeaway is that having too many clothes to choose from in our wardrobes leaves us unsatisfied with our choices – that feeling of having so many clothes, but nothing to wear!

By Eveline Vouillemin ©

Follow Jessica on Instagram for more slow fashion inspiration.


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