Saturday, June 2, 2012

Slow Fashion - Alabama Chanin

The food industry is one area that seems to have been able to embrace the green and organic movement. More than ever people are willing to spend more money on organic or local food because they realize the positive effects it has on their health and their local communities. One part of this change in our eating styles has been defined as the Slow Food movement which wikipedia describes as:

Alabama Chanin, hand work detail
an international movement ... Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

By buying from local farmers, growing your own food, and sustaining on your own local ecosystem, you are promoting small-scale processing, supporting local economies, reducing the consumption of fast food, and becoming one step closer to the product that you are putting in your body, therefore respecting it in a new and different way. 

Slow Fashion is a more recently defined movement which encourages people to think the same way about fashion as food, by taking us away from the large fast fashion brands and starting to think about smaller scale, locally made clothing, that creates a connection between you and your clothing. 

Alabama Chanin, necklace, tank and skirt 

Perhaps the most famous sustainable fashion designer that embodies this slow fashion ideology is Natalie Chanin, the designer and founder of Alabama Chanin. Upon returning to her roots in Alabama, Natalie was inspired by the local domestic artisans in her community. She describes activities like sewing, gardening, quilting and cooking as

artful endeavors that allow for independence, a way to take direct responsibility for quality of life, and simultaneously they create a bond between individuals and community, between past and present. 

Natalie realized that there were sewing skills that had been passed along for generations, skills that could be used in modern design to create beautiful garments. She realized that these skills could not be replicated in the same way by machines, and that it was critical to preserve these skills and keep the traditions alive in her community. 

Alabama Chanin, Long Paisley Dress

The Alabama Chanin brand is a collection of beautiful handmade pieces, with all the details made by local artisans in the south. Her price tags are high (I have to point out), but she's determined to pay her workers good salaries. She's embracing the slow fashion movement, and bringing fashion design back to the local ecosystem. You can absolutely tell that each garment is made with care and love, and that it will connect the wearer to the garment in a way that you will never encounter in fast fashion. 

The general idea of Slow Fashion as a concept of sustainability is that if we start to feel a closer connection to our clothes, start to respect them and take care of them more, we will start to think more about the clothing we buy. We will buy less cheap clothing, and more well-made clothing that speaks to us in a different way. Slow Fashion is going back to how clothing was thought of before mass market production. It's knowing where your clothing comes from, loving everything you own, taking care of it, and getting the most out of its life cycle. 

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