It’s no surprise that most folks want to spend winter hunkered down inside, avoiding frosty winds and temperatures. But when you do have to head out into the cold, cold weather, why not bundle up in a way that honors the environment? Slow fashion allows you to do just that.
Slow fashion is a green trend in clothes and accessories that aims to make fashion more sustainable, for both consumers and the planet. In the U.S., we’re probably more familiar with “fast fashion” (a play on fast food—cheap quality for low cost), as stores like Forever 21, H&M and Zara sell clothing that is designed and manufactured quickly, often in factories with poor working conditions. In addition, the fast fashion industry harms the environment, using toxic chemicals and producing massive amounts of waste.
Slow fashion champions high quality goods that will hold up for a long time and are made from material that has been sustainably farmed (cotton) or gathered (wool). Add to that fair wages and conditions for employees, and you have a good idea what slow fashion is all about.
Note that because more care is put in to these garments and accessories, they do tend to be on the pricier side. Think of the items below as an investment in your long term wardrobe—and warmth!
These are just some of our favorite fashion finds to help keep you warm, stylish, and “slow” this winter season.
Organic Merino Wool Shawl Wrap Scarf
You can easily find independent artists and crafters who use ethically sourced, sustainable, and organic materials. PT Designs on Etsy has a variety of awesome cowls to help keep your neck toasty warm. From chunky knits to more delicate ones, they come in a range of beautiful colors reminiscent of shades you’d spot in nature. Plus, they’re made of organic wool from the United States.
Everlane’s ethical approach to fashion is part of their Radical Transparency philosophy. They even go as far as to break down how much it costs to create a T-shirt, where the money goes, and how much they profit from each one. Everlane sources sustainable materials to create top notch, quality products that will keep you warm all winter long, such as their down-free puffer coats, made of 60 renewed plastic bottles, and cashmere crew neck sweaters that comes in a tantalizing array of colors. Plus, their 100 percent Human collection benefits the ACLU with each purchase!
Purchase a cashmere crew sweater in bright orange “tang” for $100 at Everlane.
Organic Jersey Cotton Fingerless Gloves
I am perpetually cold all winter long, which can be a problem when I live with two people with burning internal furnaces. One accessory that helps me keep out the chill are cotton fingerless gloves. They’re not bulky, keep your wrists and hands warm, and free your fingers, which is helpful for someone who spends most of the day typing. Plus, they’re made by an independent crafter with organic material!
Reformation is a textbook example of slow fashion. The company opened up a textile factory in Los Angeles in order to have control over working conditions. They pay at or above California minimum wage, utilize eco-friendly practices, and even provide health coverage for all full-time employees—standards not seen in overseas factories employed by fast fashion companies. They also go above and beyond, offering free ESL courses for employees twice a week, as well as free weekly massage for factory workers! That does higher prices, but the quality of the design and material are totally worth it. The array of coats is stunning, and I have to say that the Lucille coat is the top of the bunch. With the variety of colors to choose from and the faux fur accents, this coat will pair with everything from jeans to a little black dress.
Most of the companies taking on slow fashion are smaller ones—either individual crafters or smaller brands. However, one longtime, popular women’s brand is showing that it can be done in the big leagues as well. Eileen Fisher, known for muted tones and easy, flowing designs, has a new campaign: Vision 2020. Its goals are admirable and ones that set the brand on a slower fashion track:
We pledge to use the most sustainable fibers we can lay our hands on. All our cotton and linen will be organic by 2020.
By 2020, roughly 40 percent of our product will be either bluesign® certified or using exclusively bluesign®-approved chemicals.
By 2020, our U.S. retail and office spaces won’t just be climate neutral. They’ll be climate positive.
In addition, they pledge that factory workers will receive fair wages and work in safe conditions. All while maintaining the same quality and style they’re known for. Show your support for Eileen Fisher’s vision by purchasing an organic cotton top for layering.
Purchase an organic cotton Slub Melange Shirttail Top from Eileen Fisher for $88.
The Renewal Workshop Coat
Upcycling is the plan behind The Renewal Workshop, a company that takes unsold garments that would otherwise head to the landfills and either fixes and resells them or turn the fabric into new items. You can find name brands such as Prana and Ibex for more than 50 percent retail price. The downside is that there are limited quantities of each item. If you’re open to checking out what coats they have in your size, you might just be pleasantly surprised!