Learning how to #WearTheChange

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Written by Keandra Lucki

Hi, my name is Keandra! I’m definitely new to the world of blogging, but I figured I might as well give it a go! For my Stretch Experience, I am exploring the impacts of the Slow Fashion Movement with New Classics Studios, an Edmonton-based e-commerce clothing company that sells sustainable and ethically sourced apparel.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the terms “slow fashion” or “fast fashion”, here’s a quick breakdown:

Fast fashion is a term that relates to quick (and often mindless) consumption of garments in the fashion industry. Think H&M, ZARA, Walmart, Forever 21, etc. Basically, these companies sell clothes that are designed to make consumers feel out-of-trend after one week of purchase. Fast fashion garments are also intentionally made poorly, partially to cut costs and partially for the sake of planned obsolescence – these companies want clothes to fall apart quickly so consumers will have to buy more often from them. Furthermore, fast fashion garments are almost always unethically sourced regarding both wages and working conditions. In a lot of cases, fine detail work on fast fashion garments are performed through child slave labour. And to top it all of, most of these garment workers are placed in unstable buildings under unsafe conditions. One of the most commonly known examples of this are the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1100 of these workers, and injured over 2000. These workers are also subjected to harsh chemicals and carcinogens that can continue to remain in the clothing even when we buy these garments. There are so many more issues with fast fashion (and I could rant for days), but I said I’d give a “quick breakdown”. The moral of the story is: fast fashion is bad for everyone, except for the executives in large corporations who are getting huge paychecks.

 
Conversely, slow fashion is all about being mindful of our clothing, including where and how it’s made, the materials it is created with, and how we will interact with it. The Slow Fashion Movement involves a two-way process. For designers, it consists of creating well-made timeless pieces that are designed to both be fashionable for a while and to be high enough in quality that they will physically last for long periods of time. It also involves thinking sustainably and ethically in the manufacturing of garments. For consumers, it means being very mindful of the purchasing and post-purchase process. With slow fashion in mind, buying clothing is considering an investment; therefore, proponents of this movement encourage consumers to spend more for their clothing. It can sometimes be a difficult choice when the sustainable clothing I’ve seen is often four times the price of fast fashion articles. Although the cost is high, having more meaningful interactions with clothing that is sustainable and ethical is worth the price. Usually, slow fashion garments have some type of story that allows you to connect with the piece, whether it’s related to the designer’s thought process or insight into garment workers’ fabrication processes. All in all, slow fashion is about making choices that uplift everyone.

So how does New Classics fit in? To give you a greater sense of what New Classics does, we basically carry multiple slow fashion brands (specializing in women’s fashion) and sell their clothing articles online. The company (founded in 2014) is run by Alyssa Lau and Eric Yun — two amazing people who I am learning a lot from! Both Alyssa and Eric highly value mindfully-made clothing, which is why they chose to start a company specializing in slow fashion.

In the fashion world, Instagram is one of the most fundamental platforms for promotional media — in fact, at New Classics, it is our largest space for advertising. With over 21,700 followers, it is important that we have material to post daily. As a result, during my Stretch Experience so far I have had the opportunity to be a part of multiple photo shoots to display our products! In addition to photography, I also am able to use my graphic design skills for promotional pieces.

You can check out some images of an editorial photo shoot I assisted with here:

And some of my own photographs from a recent shoot here:

In working with New Classics, I am also becoming familiar with many sustainable brands that we currently carry and some that we are planning to carry in the future. One of the designers that I have learned the most about is Suzanne Rae, a Brooklyn-based designer who embodies our slow fashion values.

Suzanne Rae garments are ethically crafted locally in New York City’s Garment District and by artisans in Italy. The products she designs are fashioned with materials that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, including innovative textiles such as recycled polyesters and nylons made in the United States and Europe. Additionally, over 75% of Suzanne Rae apparel features biodegradable natural fibres.

Suzanne Rae is committed to creating timeless pieces that are expertly crafted and mindfully made. She also hopes to empower women through her designs, carefully considering feminist ideology to create garments that inspire self-confidence. Not only do her garments work towards empowering women— Suzanne Rae herself has been closely involved with many women’s groups based in New York City, including Girls Inc., and Women in Need (WIN). Girls Inc. is an organization that focuses on equipping young females to face societal barriers, educating them on important issues, and inspiring them to reach their potentials. WIN is a transformational homeless shelter that provides safe housing and services that assist women and their families in reclaiming their independence. Like many slow fashion designers that we buy from, social outreach is important to Suzanne Rae and her organization.

So far I have learned a lot, and the learning is about to continue. Overall, a lot of what I have been doing with New Classics is supporting the company. From my perspective, supporting the business is supporting the movement. I want more companies like New Classics Studios to gain exposure so that the Slow Fashion Movement can get more traction in the eyes of consumers. As I move forward with my Stretch Experience, I want to step it up a notch. I want to further push awareness of the impacts of fast fashion and the benefits of slow fashion through our media channels. My next step is designing informational graphics and spreading information through our twitter page. Through the PLLC, a large component of our studies has involved connecting concepts through links to current events combined with twitter posts. I hope to carry this into my Stretch Experience.

In the meantime, feel free to follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@shopnewclassics) or check out our website for more information . You can also show your support by using the hashtag #WearTheChange

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