Above: Dress patterns hanging next to vintage deadstock fabric @ MagBig Boutique in Portland, OR
Have you heard of the Slow Food Movement? It encourages us to learn the connection between the food we eat and the farms where it is grown.
Slow Fashion is the same concept, but for clothes and the factories they are made in.
What is the main idea? Before you support the garment industry, think about what portion of the industry your money will be supporting.
For example: If you know a big-box-store’s garments came from a factory in Bangladesh, were people endanger their lives working in atrocious conditions to make almost no money, you probably won’t buy that item of clothing.
How do you know what clothes to buy? The easiest way I’ve found to avoid giving money to the wrong clothing company is to buy local or handmade. (If you have other tips, please share!)
I learned about Slow Fashion while working at a Portland retail shop called MagBig. They named themselves “A Makers Department Store,” exclusively selling local artists and designers. Their goal is to foster small, sustainable local clothing production.
They’ve branched out to include some other locally made products, too. I love their vintage oven display!
Their list of contributing designers is quite lengthy. It reminds me that no one needs to go far to find great fashion.
One of my favorites is Sweet Cycle Apparel: a sustainable, small batch label that is handmade in Oregon. Check out their Company Values page for a more in-depth definition of Slow Fashion, and links to other resources.
I was actually repping a Sweet Cycle Slow Your Fashion tee in our company field trip photos! I have had some fantastic conversations with people while wearing this shirt. I don’t mind encouraging anyone to buy one if they’re interested in advocating for Slow Fashion.
Another great local line is Make It Good. A small team of 7, they are dedicated to remaining a Portland company. They purchase organic cotton directly from their fabric miller, Ira, who lives in southern California. The team cuts that fabric, prints their own designs on every cut piece, then sews the garments by hand. Wow!
And of course, MagBig has their own houseline. Their Heirloom Collection is made from vintage deadstock fabric. Their new line is made from larger bolts of salvaged fabric, including the black and white “pizza print” shown above.
Here is shop owner, Cassie Ridgeway, laying out four layers of vintage rayon fabric.
They just acquired this electric rotary cutter, which is pretty fancy.
I hope that showing you these photos of small scale production inspires you to support local designers. I always feel a special connection to Portland when I wear clothes that were produced in the small attics and studio spaces around town.
- War on Want: An inspiring campaign that brings groups together, focusing on helping those who are marginalized by globalization – i.e. factory and sweatshop workers.
- Social Media: Search #LoveFashionHateSweatshops on Twitter to discover fast fashion protests.
- Sweet Cycle’s list of ways to learn more about supporting Slow Fashion.
- Zady: A retailer of companies that care about timeless style and solid construction.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series about the craft and fashion activist movements I’ve discovered. Read part 1: Craftivism.