Erin Wetzel from Detroit Based Orleans + Winder schools us on slow fashion.

By: Erin Wetzel

The slow fashion movement has come to light over the last few years as a response to the hyper production of fast fashion and its detriment to the environment. A voracious market of disposable fashion has become the norm by touting fast, cheap and “on trend” clothing and accessories. But at what cost? How can slow fashion save the fashion industry and our ever fragile environment?

The slow food movement brought with it an awareness of where our food is coming from and gave rise to “farm to table” restaurants that work as locally and seasonally as possible.  Slow fashion is much the same; it creates an awareness of how our clothing is made, the fabrics and techniques used, and the people behind its creation. It slows the process down and approaches the consumer with a patience that vastly contrasts fast fashion.  The styles are not trendy, but hold a timeless beauty, and can be worn over the course of years vs. a few months.

There is also a bit confusion around the differences between sustainable fashion, ethical fashion and slow fashion.  Many of the concepts between the three overlap, but to clear things up, let’s define each.

  • Sustainable fashion is often concerned with the environmental impact. Opting for fibers and materials that are organic, recycled, or repurposed, limiting harmful chemicals/dyes, reducing energy/water usage and waste, and overall choosing low-impact options wherever possible.
  • Ethical fashion is often concerned with human and animal rights. As it relates to humans, ethical fashion applies to working conditions, fair wages and treatment, and no child labor.
  • Slow Fashion focuses on intentionally considering the holistic lifecycle of a product from its ideation, to raw materials, to manufacturing/production, to its supply chain/shipping, and ultimately with consumer use and end-of-life disposal.

What are things we can do to incorporate slow fashion in our lives? Here are five simple ways to get started:

1. Make Conscious Choices When Shopping.

Consider making a list at the start of each season of what you want to purchase. Do a little research to find your best options.  Ask yourself what your budget is, what pieces you actually need and what you’ve truly been wanting.

2.  Edit your wardrobe.

Cleaning out and organizing your wardrobe is a first step in creating a more minimalist mind set. What you don’t wear can be recycled, up cycled or sold on consignment.  Organize your closet and give it a good look through.

3.  Create your own style.

Ask yourself, “ what do I feel most comfortable in?”. Hone in on the clothing in your wardrobe that makes you feel confident and is comfortable. Create an awareness of which styles look good on you and if you need help, ask a friend or boutique owner to help.  Take accessories into consideration as well. A good pair of shoes or a hand bag should be an investment piece that will last more than one or two seasons.

4.  Buy more “noble” fabrics.

Clothing made from fabrics produced by small suppliers are far superior to those used in the big box store and fast fashion market. The fabrics are more natural, such as linen, wool, hemp, cotton and silk. Natural fabrics not only feel better on your skin but are less likely to cause skin reactions and body odor because they allow the skin to breath.

5. Shop locally and ask questions.

Small boutiques with a focus on slow fashion are your best choice. These are entrepreneurs who have the passion and knowledge to guide you to smart purchases that will last you through many seasons. Small stores typically know their designers personally, know how they work and know what will work for you.

Erin Wetzel is the owner of Orleans + Winder, a luxury, slow-fashion boutique in Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market.  Partnering with independent designers from all over the world, Orleans + Winder features timeless pieces with an art centric aesthetic.

O+W was created via Erin’s passion for quality, old world production techniques, sustainability, and changing the status quo of the industry from fast fashion to patient design. Erin believes in moving away from mass production and redefining the meaning of luxury in fashion. Although fashion has always been a presence in her life, Erin’s love of art and expression moved her to study theater and drama and she received her BFA from the University of Michigan in 2005.

O+W recently launched their own line of sustainable, unisex clothing.

View the collection here, and save 15% when you use the code DetroitBlows15