The Joy of Slowing Down
Posted on March 01 2022
If anything, the pandemic taught us to reflect, slow down, and be more mindful of the choices we make. Keeping up with the latest fads can become tiresome and more and more, people are beginning to adopt the idea of ’slow living’. This idea was born from the ‘slow food’ movement and has also inspired the idea of ‘slow fashion’.
“The first step of slow fashion is asking WHY before you buy” - Francine Joy
What is Slow Living and Slow Fashion?
Slow Living is all about taking the slow approach to life. This means being aware of our habits and considering our actions and their effect on the wider world. It means taking care of our mental well-being and being present in each moment, being mindful and understanding that ‘fast’ does not always mean ‘better’. It is often associated with things like meditation, home-cooked food and a minimalist lifestyle. These all accumulate into a healthier mind, body and planet.
Slow Fashion can be simply described as the opposite of fast fashion. It is the idea of being aware of the processes and resources that are needed to create the garments that we wear. Instead of cheap, trend-led clothing that is made to be worn once and then discarded, slow fashion takes the approach of using high quality fabrics for clothes that will be worn more frequently, creating less waste and landfill.
How to incorporate Slow Fashion into your wardrobe?
As a fashion lover, you can incorporate slow fashion into your everyday life by buying less and being more mindful of the items that you do choose to buy.
Here at Mei Vintage we are approaching slow fashion by creating versatile clothing that can be worn again and again. The designs are simple but stylish and can be paired with many other items making them easy to wear and last through the seasons!
We also use sustainable materials for our clothing, which are high quality and minimise harm to the environment. Understanding the fabrics that you buy is an essential part of living a slow fashion lifestyle. We want to highlight the sustainable fabrics that we have used in the new Mei Vintage clothing collection and explore why they are important.
What are sustainable fabrics and why should we choose them?
Sustainable fabrics are ones that seek to reduce harm to the environment. This can include sustainably-grown, natural plant fabrics or recycled fibres and fabrics as an alternative to creating waste.
Today, most of the clothing that we wear is made from synthetic, man-made materials such as polyester which is essentially a type of plastic. During the production of polyester, harmful substances are often released into the environment. Additionally, once a polyester garment is discarded, it does not biodegrade and contributes to landfill that could last for decades or even centuries.
Cotton is one of the most versatile and widely used fibres - it can be found in many of our everyday items, in garments like t-shirts and denim jeans, and other household textiles like bath towels! It is naturally soft, breathable and moisture wicking, which means that it is super comfortable to wear and doesn’t make you sweat.
Cotton gets its name from cotton plants, which are grown in fields that look like white, fluffy clouds. After they’re harvested, the cotton fibres are processed into threads to be made into various different materials.
Although there are many great benefits of cotton, large amounts of pesticides and water are needed to grow the plant. It is estimated that for one t-shirt, a staggering 2700 litres of water is used and the cotton industry accounts for 16% of insecticides used globally each year.
This is where organic cotton comes in. Organic farmers reduce the need for large amounts of water by cultivating healthier soil that holds water for longer so that less water is needed for growth. Organic cotton eliminates the need for pesticides by using other farming methods - this makes it better safer for farmers who would otherwise be handling dangerous chemicals. It also makes it safer for us and eliminates the trace amounts of pesticides that could be on our clothing.
Linen is another natural fibre grown from plants and is one of the oldest textiles in the world. Although linen has become less widely used, it is a material with many great features and is one of the most sustainable.
Linen comes from the flax plant which is spun and woven to create the fabric. The whole plant can be used, which means that there is virtually zero waste. It can be farmed organically and doesn’t require chemicals to grow and it also doesn’t need a lot of water to survive! It absorbs dye very well which means that less dye is needed to create different colours which in turn, produces less chemicals that pollute our planet.
A magical trait of linen is that it can regulate heat very well; during summer it is breathable and reflects heat, and during winter it can regulate heat to keep you warm. It’s many great qualities also include sturdiness and durability which means that it is long lasting and is actually stronger than cotton.
Linen is very easy to wear, its smooth surface doesn’t pill like some other natural materials like wool. It is versatile and can be made in both heavy and lightweight weaves and creates a relatively stiff fabric that doesn’t cling to the skin, making it a perfect option for flowy dresses and shirts.
Bamboo is renowned for being the primary diet of pandas but it is also a valuable material that can create luxurious, soft fabrics in the form of bamboo cotton and bamboo silk!
It has been used by humans in history for housing, furniture and paper and has become popular in the clothing industry as a common eco-friendly option.
It’s made using bamboo plants which are very easy and quick to grow; bamboo can sprout from old shoots once the stalks are cut for harvesting! It also doesn’t require pesticides and can be sustained on just rainwater, making it an environmentally-friendly alternative.
Grown primarily in China, the fabric is made by extracting cellulose from the bamboo to create sheets that are then filtered and made into threads to be woven to create the fabric.
The beautiful qualities of bamboo can mimic silk as it can be woven very thin whilst maintaining its strength. Bamboo is very breathable, sweat-wicking and allows for stretch which makes it super-soft and comfortable to wear against the skin. It’s smooth, cooling ability makes it one of the best fabrics for hot weather or physical activity!
When it comes to hemp fabric, the material is harvested from cannabis plants. It is another fibre that has been used for years; in the 19th century, over 80 percent of the world’s fabric was made from hemp. After dipping in popularity in the 20th century, hemp is back on the rise as consumers are becoming more aware of its environmental benefits.
Like many other sustainable fabrics, it can be grown without pesticides and doesn’t need huge quantities of water, making it a great alternative for cotton. It is an easy plant to manage and can be grown in poor quality soil with roots that replenish the earth to leave the soil in better condition than it was before.
After harvesting, the plants are dried and the fibres are then separated and can be spun into yarn. Its versatility allows it to be used to make fine and heavy fabrics from lace to industrial canvas.
Hemp is naturally incredibly strong and durable so can be worn for years and years. It even softens with each wash, making it more comfortable as time goes on! It’s naturally breathable and can be lightweight, making it ideal in hot climates.
Asking WHY before you buy
As a simple way to start incorporating sustainability into your wardrobe, let's slow down and ask some quick questions before choosing to purchase an item. These may seem obvious but it is easy to get caught up in the moment once you spot something that you just ‘have to have’!
Why do I want to buy this item?
A simple question that could have a range of answers! Maybe you have a special event coming up that you need a new dress for. Perhaps you saw it on a celebrity and want to recreate the look. Maybe it’s a staple that you have been wanting for ages! Take a second to check in and make sure that you do have a reason to buy.
Will I wear it more than once? More than three times? Will it stay in my wardrobe forever?
Can you picture yourself wearing it again and again? Will it stand the test of time in terms of trends and style? Ideally you can see yourself wearing it for years to come! A good option for items that you think might only be a ‘one off’ is to pass it onto a friend once you have enjoyed it or consider renting special items on websites like Rent the Runway or ByRotation.
What is it made of?
Consider the fabric quality, how comfortable it is to wear and how long it may last. Poor quality fabrics are often itchy and can be unflattering, meaning that you may not keep reaching for it once you’ve brought it home! It’s a good idea to go for natural fibres that feel soft on your skin.
Does it go with my existing wardrobe?
There’s nothing worse than buying a new item that doesn’t go with anything already in your wardrobe! Can you think of an outfit that it would work well with? Or hopefully a few outfits? This is when you know that it will fit seamlessly into your wardrobe and is versatile enough to wear again and again.
Do I really love it?
Finally, do you really LOVE it? Is there something about the fit that is just perfect? Or maybe it’s that ideal shade of green for your skin tone? Pinpoint the reasons why you love it and why it’s worth a special place in your wardrobe!
Here at Mei Vintage, we value the idea of slow living and developing quality handmade goods that are versatile and long lasting. We encourage the idea of slow fashion as a lifestyle that rejects fast fashion and instead focuses on carefully selecting ethical and environmental items that can be worn repeatedly and even be passed down through generations.
Mei Vintage holds sustainability at the heart of the brand. We are excited to announce our soon to be released clothing line made from natural fibers such as linen, bamboo, organic cotton and hemp. Stay tuned for exciting announcement.