Slow Fashion October- the Intro

The amazing Karen at Fringe Association tripped me onto this a year ago, and she’s invited the community at large to discuss again this second time around.  I lurked (exclusively) the first time, but I was fascinated.  There are some amazing stories, some amazing fibre artists, and some amazing eco-activists posting around this topic– check out @slowfashionoctober for a bunch of them (and, you know, creative folks who actually photograph their super cool stuff), or follow at Karen’s blog, above.

For those who don’t know, Slow Fashion is described as “a celebration of the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe” by Karen.  This week, the first week of October, is about introductions… namely, how this plays out in your life.  And this time, I was determined to actually be involved.  Even if I have a weird intro story.

I first became conscious of Slow Fashion in 2006.  A good friend had invited me to her place, and when I went to use her washroom, I noticed a bunch of weird cloth things pinned across her bathtub to dry.  In my extremely subtle 20-something way, I immediately went into the hallway and yelled down to her, “hey, what the hell are these things?”.  She kindly explained they were her reusable pads.

I’d never heard of such a thing.  But I had a lot of faith in this friend, so I looked up the company- a tiny, women-only company making their stuff by hand, out in Vancouver.  And I read their blog posts… full of discussions of financial sense and eco-friendliness and general logic… and a not-so-hidden promotion for supporting a group of women making something for women, that they actually used themselves, that worked, that didn’t need to be thrown away.

Are “traditional” pads and tampons the definition of fast fashion?  Maybe not typically… but they hold a lot in common.  Weird processing of weirder “fibres” and polymers and unknow-a-mers, dyed and bleached and packed in more plastic, and sold by the thousands to customers oceans away with a completely overt lifespan of one-time-use.  Okay, granted most fast fashion doesn’t explicitly say one-time-use… but the similarities are there, as are the bulk stash most women have (at least two or three brands, with at least one or two old pads or tampons floating around from before you switched)… and there are commercials, and brand loyalty, and shame.  Lots of shame.

I switched that year to lunapads and have never looked back (and no, I’m not affiliated with them).  I do love them, though.  Their products, their activism, and their outreach have made a huge difference in my life.  And I love supporting a group who work so hard to make this another part of a more conscious wardrobe.  For those who are wondering, no, as far as I can tell they aren’t particularly good at disclosing origin of fabric (and they use PUL in some of their products).  Here’s what it did do though– it made me think.  About something I’d never even questioned before.  Of course women go to that horrible aisle in the grocery store/pharmacy/whatever and stand there, staring blankly at 3000 different products all promising to make sure no one else will know she’s on her period.  What else would we ever do?

For me, this is the true beginning of a slow fashion wardrobe.  I guess any habit-shift has to start with awareness.

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