Slow Clothing

Slow clothing is a philosophy – a way of thinking about and choosing clothes to ensure they bring meaning, value and joy to every day. It is a grassroots response to fast fashion that considers the ethics and sustainability of garments, values provenance and artisan skills while focusing on timeless style, comfort and connection. It is about thoughtful, ethical, creative and sustainable ways to enjoy the garments we wear every day while minimising our material footprint on the world. Slow clothing manifests itself through 10 simple approaches –  think, natural, quality, local, care, few, make, adapt, revive and salvage.

The Slow Clothing Project is Textile Beat’s 2016 campaign to spark conversation about clothing use and reuse by creating a collection of garments handmade by individuals across Australia. The focus is on making your own garments, using natural fibres and textile reuse where possible.  The 40 maker stories which are linked below. For more details about the project, scroll to the bottom.

Dr Nicola Smith – DIY enables direct engagement with physical world, for comfort and creativity.

Dr Nicola Smith wears her comforable and buttonless top made in her style for The Slow Clothing Project.

Dr Nicola Smith wears her comforable and buttonless top made in her style for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jennifer Bain – Meaningful making that reconsiders the wearability of items others discard.

Jennifer Bain shows how she brings meaning to quilts and clothing

Jennifer Bain shows how she brings meaning to quilts and clothing

Michelle and Grace McRae – skills valued for many reasons, including self-worth and resilience

Grace wears garments upcycled by herself and Mum Michelle for The Slow Clothing Project

Grace wears garments upcycled by herself and Mum Michelle for The Slow Clothing Project

Vivienne Poon – values the story and creativity that goes into making a garment of your own

Vivienne Poon wears the garment she created for The Slow Clothing Project.

Vivienne Poon wears the garment she created for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jenny Jackett – ‘through the hand-making process we learn the values of time, effort and quality”

Jenny Jacket wears her coat of many colours handmade for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jenny Jacket wears her coat of many colours handmade for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jemma Edwards – Rejects fast fashion in favour of unique, handmade garments

Jemma Edwards created a jacket embellished with bespoke floral prints for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jemma Edwards created a jacket embellished with bespoke floral prints for The Slow Clothing Project.

Deborah Palmer – Upcycling captures memories and extends the life of retired garments

Helen Gainer wears meaningful garments upcycled by her daughter Deborah Palmer

Helen Gainer wears meaningful garments upcycled by her daughter Deborah Palmer

Julie Livingstone – it is good for our mental wellbeing to be able to create something.

Julie Livingstone wears a vest she recreated from op-shop-found denim for The Slow Clothing Project.

Julie Livingstone wears a vest she recreated from op-shop-found denim for The Slow Clothing Project.

Bron Berkin – Observing something transform from a square of material is so satisfying

Bron Berkin wears her upcycled Wolf Tee Dress for The Slow Clothing Project

Bron Berkin wears her upcycled Wolf Tee Dress for The Slow Clothing Project

Eliza Kelly – Eliza believes there is huge value in using your hands to create

Eliza Kelly from Parkes NSW wears her upcycled denim skirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Eliza Kelly from Parkes NSW wears her upcycled denim skirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Wendi Trulson – The whole world needs a lesson, in repurpose, refashion, mend and fix

Wendi Trulson wears her eco-dye upcycled wool and cashmere swing top for The Slow Clothing Project

Wendi Trulson wears her eco-dye upcycled wool and cashmere swing top for The Slow Clothing Project

Sarah Lundgren – believes creativity is important for wellbeing and good health

 Sarah-Lundgren-wears-her-eco-creation-for-The-Slow-Clothing-Project


Sarah-Lundgren-wears-her-eco-creation-for-The-Slow-Clothing-Project

Kate Fletcher – Kate’s favourite clothes are created with a conglomeration of different makers

Tasmania's Kate Fletcher wears her story-filled garment hand-stitched for The Slow Clothing Project

Tasmania’s Kate Fletcher wears her story-filled garment hand-stitched for The Slow Clothing Project

Cathy Stuart – believes the act of making something can create a deep sense of satisfaction.

Jasmine wears an upcycled couture creation made by her mother Cathy Stuart for The Slow Clothing Project

Jasmine wears an upcycled couture creation made by her mother Cathy Stuart for The Slow Clothing Project

Denise Traynor – reusing items helps to counteract the wasteful, mass consumption model.

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Mei models the dress and cardigan Denise Traynor shibori-dyed as a matched outfit for The Slow Clothing Project

Mariana Kirova – professional upcycler, an eco-fashion educator and an agent for change.

Mariana Kirova creates an eco-fashion statement ensemble for The Slow Clothing Project.

Mariana Kirova creates an eco-fashion statement ensemble for The Slow Clothing Project.

Nina van Hartskamp – true empowerment comes when you create the life you want

Nina van Hartskamp wears an eco-print wool jacket she transformed for The Slow Clothing Project

Nina van Hartskamp wears an eco-print wool jacket she transformed for The Slow Clothing Project

Rozalie Sherwood – loves educating people about the potential of making one special jacket

Olivia wears the jacket made for her by mum Rozalie Sherwood as part of The Slow Clothing Project

Olivia wears the jacket made for her by mum Rozalie Sherwood as part of The Slow Clothing Project

Saadia Thomson – making for sustainability, creativity, self-expression, uniqueness, enjoyment

Erin Thomson wears an apron made by her mum Saadia from a rescued business shirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Erin Thomson wears an apron made by her mum Saadia from a rescued business shirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Sally Harris – ‘When you make something yourself, you have a greater sense of wellbeing’

Sally Harris wears a wool poncho she made from a knee rug for The Slow Clothing Project.

Sally Harris wears a wool poncho she made from a knee rug for The Slow Clothing Project.

Xin Wang – cherishes garments more since she knows the effort and time taken to make

Gorgeous Flora Hanisch wears a dress handmade by her mum Xin

Gorgeous Flora Hanisch wears a dress handmade by her mum Xin

Barbara Sherlock – “I adapt the clothing to fit my figure, my lifestyle and my age group”

Barbara Sherlock upcycled a wool skirt into a sleeveless vest for The Slow Clothing Project.

Barbara Sherlock upcycled a wool skirt into a sleeveless vest for The Slow Clothing Project.

Cath Jarvis – she learned to sew after realising these skills are useful for sustainable living

Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created from discarded jeans and work shorts

Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created for The Slow Clothing Project from discarded jeans and work shorts

Genevieve Manhal – learning problem-solving and critical thinking through the design process

Genevieve Manhal made this versatile pinafore/skirt from resources already in circulation for The Slow Clothing Project.

Genevieve Manhal from south Gippsland made this versatile pinafore/skirt for The Slow Clothing Project.

Frances Leske – making her own clothing brings joy and self-confidence

Frances Leske used fabric gifted from her mother to create wide-leg pants and a top for The Slow Clothing Project.

Frances Leske used fabric gifted from her mother to create wide-leg pants and a top for The Slow Clothing Project.

Tamara Russell –  believes the slow, meditative process of stitching is great for body and soul.

Tamara Russell made a signature wool cardigan for The Slow Clothing Project.

Tamara Russell made a signature wool cardigan for The Slow Clothing Project.

Dr Jenny Ostini – ‘sewing gives me the chance to slow down and create’

Jenny Ostini wears handmade jackets created for The Slow Clothing Project, worn with op shop-found black dress

Jenny Ostini wears handmade jackets created for The Slow Clothing Project, worn with op shop-found black dress

Leeyong Soo – loves the palpable satisfaction of making and remaking her own clothes

Leeyong Soo wears one of the five garments she created from one caftan for The Slow Clothing Project.

Leeyong Soo wears one of the five garments she created from one caftan for The Slow Clothing Project.

Emma Williamson – ‘supporting handmade, ethically produced items has many benefits’

Emma Williamson wears the dress she made from a sheet for The Slow Clothing Project

Emma Williamson wears the dress she made from a sheet for The Slow Clothing Project. Photo by Helen Osler

Kerri Harris – “it’s such a shame to lose sewing skills when they’re relatively easy to master”

Kerri Harris wears the garment she recreated for The Slow Clothing Project. Photos by Giulio Saggin

Kerri Harris wears the garment she recreated for The Slow Clothing Project. Photos by Giulio Saggin

Elizabeth Kingston – believes in shifting thinking from being ‘in fashion’ to being ‘in style’

Elizabeth Kingston wears her Frida Kahlo-inspired ensemble handmade and styled from existing resources

Elizabeth Kingston wears her Frida Kahlo-inspired ensemble handmade and styled from existing resources

Majella Albion – encouraging a more frugal attitude towards the use of material resources.

Majella Albion wears the upcycled skirt she made for The Slow Clothing Project.

Majella Albion wears the upcycled skirt she made for The Slow Clothing Project.

Paisley Park – conscious of what surrounds her, including food, clothing, people, environment

Paisley Park in the dress she created from cotton offcuts for The Slow Clothing Project

Paisley Park in the dress she created from cotton offcuts for The Slow Clothing Project

Miriam Gillham – sewing enables you to create clothing that is considered and thoughtful

Miriam Gillham with the supersized dress she repurposed for daughter for The Slow Clothing Project

Fiona Saunders – her life has always included handmade, recycled and repurposed clothes

Fiona Saunders wears upcycled silk and lace garment she created for The Slow Clothing Project

Fiona Saunders wears upcycled silk and lace garment she created for The Slow Clothing Project

Dr Libby Woodhams – demonstrating creative reuse and the wonderful properties of wool

Dr Libby Woodhams created this reversible wrap skirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Dr Libby Woodhams created this reversible wrap skirt for The Slow Clothing Project

Annabelle Brayley – a best-selling author who makes all her ‘good’ clothes from natural fibres.

Annabelle Brayley renovated a handmade favourite linen jacket for The Slow Clothing Project

Annabelle Brayley renovated a handmade favourite linen jacket for The Slow Clothing Project

Neroli Roocke – a journalist who believes thinking about consumption is a key to sustainability

Maker Neroli Roocke wears a skirt she created from vintage curtains for The Slow Clothing Project

Maker Neroli Roocke wears a skirt she created from vintage curtains for The Slow Clothing Project

Kylie Challenor – a professional editor who taught herself to sew as a adult

Julie Challenor frock

Julie Hillier – teaching handmade with a contemporary twist at Ministry of Handmade

Julie Hillier in Audrey dress horizontal

Jane Milburn – project leader and founder of Textile Beat

Jane Milburn in upcycled eco-dye t-shirt dress. Photo by Darcy Milburn

After more than a decade of ‘disposable’ fast fashion, there’s growing interest in ethical and sustainable clothing with a good story to tell.

We created a collection of handmade garments during 2016, some of which will be showcased at a number of conferences and public spaces during  2016 and 2017. Each garment becomes a different story about mindful and sustainable resource use told through various voices.

These stories reflect Slow Clothing Manifesto actions we can take to reduce our clothing footprint: think, natural, quality, local, care, few, make, adapt, revive and salvage.

The project narrative weaves knowledge and skills to help people choose well, use clothes for longer and reduce textile waste in landfill. It celebrates the mindful/healthful benefits of handmade and will grow awareness of the usefulness of stitching and sewing. It explores the history of natural-fibre industries in Australia, and celebrates local growers and makers.

We are based in Australia, that’s local to us. Yet this project has a global mission which aligns with Goal 12 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

3 thoughts on “Slow Clothing

  1. sharmita kar

    from my childhood days i have seen my mother takes meticulous plans to make one dress for us, i grew up with this habit. sometimes i dont get time to make a complete dress. then i buy and remake it in new shape, embroider, add lace. and very recently i have a boutique named brush and needle. i am making clothes for friends

  2. Cate

    I don’t understand the obsession with shopping. Malls are close enough to hell, crammed full of poor quality clothing, all with the same look (the fixation recently on uneven hemlines for dresses, skirts AND tops.) And the explosion in synthetic fabric that is so wrong for Australia’s generally hot, humid summers.

    There is a perception that buying something will make us happy. Well, it doesn’t. We all know that, if we are honest with ourselves. The whole consumer economy (and I mean over-consumption) is terribly damaging to people, their pockets and the environment. How can people possibly like a piece of poor quality merchandise made in a sweat factory using impoverished labour?

    It’s always refreshing to see somebody making or wearing something that suits them, not the rampant clothing economy.
    I make my own because I am me, not everybody else.

  3. Jane

    Well done Cate, for doing Indie Style. It is great you have time and skills to make something to suit yourself. Kindest, Jane

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