ABOUT THE SLOW-FASHION MOVEMENT

Behind the scenes at the garment factory

(Top) Local factory owner Susan and myself reviewing a sample (Bottom) The factory floor (Right) Saying hello to everyone.
slow-fashion symbols recycled plastic bottles empowering female garment workers with fair wages

SLOW-FASHION, AS OPPOSED TO FAST-FASHION, ADVOCATES FOR PRINCIPLES SIMILAR TO THE SLOW-FOOD MOVEMENT:

  • Good quality
  • Clean environment
  • Fairness for both consumers and producers

It represents all things eco, ethical and green in one unified word. It's a revolutionary approach in the fashion world because it encourages slowing down rather than speeding up production, to emphasize quality over quantity and ensure thorough understanding of a products environmental and social impact.

C H E A P    C L O T H I N G   I S   V E R Y    E X P E N S I V E
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Traditional fashion brands (think H&M) reply on the mass production of globalized trends to make a profit. They sell high volume at very low prices, keeping shelves overstocked with every size and color to never miss a sale. Ever wondered who buys all of the stuff you see in shopping malls? The answer is they don't. Mass amounts of excess unsold inventory end up in warehouses and eventually dumped into landfills. Brands take a huge risk building inventory every season, mitigating it by trying to accurately forecast trends while negotiating rock bottom prices with manufacturers. Not wanting to be outbid, factory owners have no choice but to underbid contracts and make their workers pay the price in the form of rock bottom wages.

Leftover inventory is an estimated $1 trillion dollar problem worldwide with 13 million tonnes of clothing filling up our landfills annually, meanwhile garment factory workers continue to be grossly underpaid. 

M A N - M A D E    D I S A S T E R S
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  • In 2012 a factory fire in Bangladesh killed 117 workers and injured 200 more, making it the deadliest factory fire in human history. Major clients including Walmart and Ikea denied awareness of unsafe working conditions despite documents uncovered suggesting otherwise. Walmart proceeded to deliberately block reforms that would require retailers to pay more in order to improve safety standards in Bangladesh, stating "it is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments." 
  • In 2013 building owners ignored warning signs resulting in a factory collapse that killed 1300 people and injured 2500 more, making it the deadliest factory collapse in human history. Major clients included Walmart and Joe Fresh, among 23 others. Walmart refused to sign a proposal that would compensate the victims. Victims were only compensated if they could provide DNA evidence of their relatives death, a process that proved difficult for many, and more than 2 dozen families remain without compensation.

F A L S E    P R O M I S E S
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  • In a bold 2017 statement H&M promised to ensure all of its 850,000 workers were paid a living wage by 2018, a promise they have since failed to make good on as pointed out the by the Clean Clothes Campaign, an organization that says H&M is now even less transparent than ever before. Low profits is not the culprit, in 2017 the Chairman of H&M earned over 800 million.

Slow-fashion values advocating against child labour, material waste and unsafe working conditions

(Top) UNICEF estimates there are 170 million children worldwide employed in the clothing industry (Bottom) The aftermath of a Bangladesh factory fire (Right) Bales of used clothing awaiting export

 

A R E   Y O U   A   W I S H F U L   D O N A T O R ?
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Ever been at the dump to witness an entire truck of recycling being dumped into the landfill? This is what happens to recycling that isn't cleaned and sorted properly, seriously.

The same thing happens with used clothing. Many second hand stores are run by volunteers and are painfully understaffed. With resources spread thin and delivery bins overflowing they can't afford to sort through every item. Garbage bags that appear to contain cheap, warped, full of holes clothing are sent straight to recycling plants where they will most likely find their way to the dump.

Though textile recycling plants are in place the percentage of garments actually being processed is in the single digits, more than 90% still ends up in landfills. Frankly, nobody wants poor quality used clothing, even third world countries are trying to put a ban on import due to the strain it puts on their garment industries and landfills. 

 

C O R E   V A L U E S
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For Slow Fashion to emerge as a sustainable fashion model, a team of three researchers from the Master’s in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability Program in Sweden have recommended that Slow Fashion Values be used to guide the entire supply chain. 

Just like one-size fits all rarely fits anyone, the values of slow-fashion are not meant to be a standard solution. Instead, they're meant to encourage creative thinking and be adapted by those wishing to support the movement. They are intended to spark a conversation among designers, manufacturers, retailers and others about what changes can be made in their process to improve environmental and social impact.

What are the values? They're listed below, along with what Bewildher is doing to incorporate them into our process:

1. SEE THE BIG PICTURE

CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

Slow Fashion producers recognize that they are all interconnected to the larger environmental and social system and make decisions accordingly. Slow Fashion encourages a systems thinking approach because it recognizes that the impact of our collective choices affect both the environment and people.

OUR TAKE

While ceasing the production of new apparel altogether at first seams like the simple solution, with the millions of jobs that would be lost it's not a very ethical one. Rather than closing up shop, Bewildher has chosen to switch to a pre-order only business model that effectively eliminates material waste from leftover inventory for significant financial gain that can be put towards paying fair wages and lowering prices.

The eco-friendly printing facility

(Top) Cindy from EcoDigiTec getting panels ready for printing (Bottom) My son Bleiddwn helping me make sure everything looks good (Right) Birds eye view of the printing facility Ecodigitec. The machine you see is using heat to transfer ink printed on recycled paper to the fabric, a process that require no harsh chemicals and does not waste dye.

2. SLOW DOWN CONSUMPTION

CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

Reducing raw materials by decreasing fashion production can allow the earth’s regenerative capabilities to take place. This will alleviate pressure on natural cycles so fashion production can be in a healthy rhythm with what the earth can provide.

OUR TAKE

In addition to only sewing what is needed, Bewildher leggings contain 3.4 recycled plastic bottles in every pair and use recycled paper in our printing process and packaging. 

3. DIVERSITY

CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

Slow Fashion producers strive to maintain ecological, social and cultural diversity. Biodiversity is important because it offers solutions to climate change and environmental degradation. Diverse and innovative business models are encouraged; independent designers, larger fashion houses, second-hand, vintage, recycled, fashion leasing, your local knitting club and clothing swaps are all recognized in the movement. Keeping traditional methods of garment & textile making and dyeing techniques alive also gives vibrancy and meaning to what we wear and how it was made.

OUR TAKE

By emerging as a non-traditional pre-order only activewear brand, Bewildher can offer an innovative way for active women to reduce their carbon footprint, be more environmentally friendly and have social impact that empowers other women. 

    4. RESPECTING PEOPLE

    CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

    Participating in campaigns and codes of conduct can help to secure the fair treatment of workers. Some brands have joined the Asian Floor Wage Alliance, Ethical Trading Initiative, and the Fair Wear Foundation, among others. Labels are also supporting local communities by offering skill development and helping them to trade. 

    OUR TAKE

    Bewildher has consciously chosen to work with a local garment factory that pays employees fair wages and offer financial incentive to slow down and improve garment quality. Our design for the future project is to establish an in-house garment sewing facility that will employ skilled workers for living wages. 

    Meet the woman who sews your clothes

      (Top) Meet the woman who sews your leggings (Bottom) Susan, myself and Bleiddwn at the factory (Right) The Cyan Sunbre leggings being sewn.

      5. ACKNOWLEDGING HUMAN NEEDS

      CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

      Designers can meet human needs by co-creating garments and offering fashion with emotional significance. By telling the story behind a garment or inviting the customer to be part of the design process, the needs of creativity, identity and participation can be satisfied.

      OUR TAKE

      There's a reason brands never show you behind the scene photos of their factories, because it would evoke a negative emotional reaction. Even where there are controlled minimum wages and safe working conditions factories look and feel sweat-shop like. In an effort to raise awareness for working conditions and connect active women to the women who sew activewear, Bewildher is giving you a behind the scenes look. We also understand that it doesn't matter how eco-friendly or ethical a garment is, if it doesn't look, feel, fit and perform well you're not going to buy it. This is why we strive to design the highest quality, most aesthetically pleasing garments possible and invite you to provide honest feedback, contribute design ideas while offering a money back guarantee.

          6. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

          CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

          Collaboration and co-creation ensure trusting and lasting relationships that will create a stronger movement. Building relationships between producers and co-producers is a key part of the movement.

          OUR TAKE

          Factory relationships are traditionally strained, with brands pressuring owners to reduce prices while improving delivery dates. Bewildher is working to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with our factory, by proceeding with understanding and compassion, offering extra financial incentive to deliver the highest quality goods and working within reasonable timelines. The above has allowed Bewildher to reduce the standard 10-15% estimated return rate down to 5%. To even further reduce waste, rather than discarding faulty garments we work with the factory to have them repaired and made fit for resale.

            7. RESOURCEFULNESS

            CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

            Slow-Fashion brands focus on using local materials and resources when possible and try to support the development of local businesses and skills.

            OUR TAKE

            All of Bewildher's garments are locally sewn and printed from materials locally sourced, and only sold in smaller independently owned boutique retail stores.

              8. MAINTAINING QUALITY AND BEAUTY

              CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

              Encouraging classic design over passing trends will contribute to the longevity of garments. A number of Slow Fashion designers are ensuring the longevity of their clothing by sourcing high quality fabrics, offering traditional cuts and creating beautiful, timeless pieces.

              OUR TAKE

              By using only high quality long lasting material and offering each print as a limited-edition release Bewildher seeks to make each garment feel like a special keepsake.

              What a small local garment factory looks like

                (All Photos) This is where your clothes are made, in Vancouver, BC, Canada by these women.

                9. PROFITABLE YET ACCESSIBLE

                CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

                Slow Fashion producers need to sustain profits and increase their visibility in the market to be competitive, resulting in prices that are often higher because they incorporate sustainable resources and fair wages. To be accessible to consumers, they must look for creative ways to add value to products while lowering prices, so that when given the choice between two similar products conscious shoppers can opt for the sustainable and ethical version.

                OUR TAKE

                Bewildher is making every effort to keep pricing accessible and competitive in the marketplace. Though based on traditional markups our leggings should retail for $160, we recognize this price point is not accessible to most. Instead we have found creative ways to reduce our operating overhead so that we may offer a significantly discounted pre-order price and a still-competitive retail price.

                  10. PRACTICING CONSCIOUSNESS

                  CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

                  This means making decisions based on personal passions, an awareness of the connection to others and the environment, and the willingness to act responsibly. Within the Slow Fashion movement, many people love what they do, and aspire to make a difference in the world in a creative and innovative way.

                  OUR TAKE

                  Bewildher knows that being conscious means to not only be aware of our surroundings but to take action. It means responding to the environmental and social issues present in the fashion industry by finding ways in our process to make a difference and be the change we want to see in the world.

                   Slow-fashion value planting tree give back social impact sustainable conscious graphic fitness leggings

                  (All Photos) Tree planting in British Columbia, photos courtesy of One Tree Planted, whom Bewildher is actively partnered with.

                   

                  G E T    I N V O L V E D
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                  Want to be a part of the slow-fashion movement? Here are some ways:

                  1. Shop Bewildher's slow-fashion leggings.
                  2. Read about my refer a friend badassador program.
                  3. Follow me on Instagram and tag friends in my giveaway contests
                  4. Bring your girlfriends to shop at one of my events or retailers.
                  5. Read my story.
                  6. Shop other Done Good brands.
                  7. Donate $1 to plant a tree.
                  8. Sign-up to donate 1% of your annual income to the planet.

                   

                  A heartfelt thank-you for following and supporting my slow-fashion journey!
                  - Nadine, Owner and Designer
                  Human hands still make your clothes
                  (Left) A special moment that reminds me why advocating against child labor and ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages matter. (Right) A reminder that even commercial clothing is still very much 'handmade.'
                  Ask the brands you buy from "who made my clothes?"

                   

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