Hello! Welcome to the Unicorn Clothing Blog, “Mane Street Chronicles.” We’ve been talking and thinking about this blog for a long time now, and we have an exciting list of topics we are eager to talk about. Everything from the daily fun of being a small business in general and running a shoppe at a Renaissance festival in particular, to historical fashion, to the history of Unicorn Clothing, keeping up with modern trends, and more! It is such a long list, in fact, that we had trouble deciding where to start!
So, let’s start with introductions. My name is Erica. I’ve been with Unicorn Clothing since 2011. I manage several of our shops around the country, as well as many behind the scene things. I run our Website, Facebook, and Instagram pages; design the new pieces we’ve been adding to our collections; and more. I have a background in theater, fashion design, and small business management…so being a part of the Unicorn Herd is exactly where I want to be! I’ll be a frequent writer for the Mane Street Chronicles, but I’m sure we’ll have guest writers from time to time as well. We have a lot of interesting and enthusiastic Unicorns in our herd!
For our first article, I thought I would pick something interesting, but easy enough to get our feet wet, so I landed on the concept of Slow Fashion. But once I started writing I realized this was a really interesting topic! My tiny intro article blossomed into an entire series! So, for the next several weeks, we’ll be exploring Slow Fashion and how it relates to Renaissance festivals, the loyal festival audience, and Unicorn Clothing.
So…shall we dive in? What is Slow Fashion?
It might be easiest to define a thing by comparing it to its opposite- Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is the modern fashion business model. It is releasing new collections every season, every month, sometimes even every week. It is low price, low quality, high volume clothing production. It tells its customers to chase trends and stuff their closets with cheap things they don’t even like, and won’t even wear, but feel compelled to own. Or worse, they find things they do like, but the clothes are made so quickly, of such low quality materials, that they break down after just a few washes. And trying to mend your favorites is just not acceptable in fast fashion. I won’t bore you with statistics, but the sheer volume of fast fashion clothing that ends up in landfills each year is staggering. Even worse, often the clothing going to those landfills is brand new! Mega brands will throw away warehouses full of new clothing that didn’t sell in time, and can’t be sold now that they’re on to the next micro-season and new new NEW things to sell. Anyway, you get the point. Fast Fashion is unsustainable. It wrecks the environment, often comes at the expense of the workers at all levels, and is a dangerous economic game.
In contrast, Slow Fashion focuses on sustainability, both environmental and socioeconomic sustainability, and cultural connection. It focuses on style rather than fashion. (Don’t know the difference? Tune in for article #3 as we explore style, fashion, trends, and capsule collections!) Slow Fashion follows the total life of each garment. It places responsibility and intention with the company, by demanding accountability of design, production and sales. And it follows the garment home to the customer by demanding responsibility of use, re-use, and finally retirement of the garment.
Let’s look a little more closely at each of those areas.
Company Structure: Slow Fashion focused companies are typically smaller businesses, locally or nationally based, with a cultural connection in their company mission.
Product Design: Clothing is made with high-quality, environmentally friendly materials. It is designed to be used for years. New styles are released slowly, and old styles are aged out infrequently.
Production: Items are made in an environmentally protective way. Those making the items are paid a living wage and treated with dignity and respect. Production schedules are often just-in-time, meaning items are made as they are needed so that companies aren’t left with excess unwanted stock.
Sales: Clothing is available for much longer than the brief seasons seen in fast fashion. The same pieces are often available for years! Maybe a new color release marks a new season. Slow Fashion garments are priced to reflect the quality and sustainability built into the life of the item. They might seem “higher priced” than fast fashion, but those prices reflect the true cost of production, including the costs born by the environment and the local community.
Use: Customers purchase items they love and that are a true reflection of their personality and interests. They wear them for years, maintaining them through mending and low-maintenance washing to extend the life of the item.
Re-Use: When the original owner of the garment no longer uses the item the item often becomes a hand-me-down to younger family or friends, gets sent to a thrift store, or is cut up and used in a new “up-cycled” fashion piece. Up-cycling is taking an older item and modifying it to be used in a new way. Like cutting up sweaters to make into a patchwork coat, or cutting down an oversized flannel shirt into a comfy fall dress.
Retirement: At the end of a garment’s life it can be used as rags for cleaning, filler for pillows, or finally retired to a landfill or recycling center. But since the slow fashion pieces were designed using environmentally friendly fabrics (i.e. cotton, linen, etc.) even pieces that do end up at the landfill often breakdown and decompose much quicker than cheap fabrics used in fast fashion items.
Just by reading through this definition, you might be thinking of all the ways Unicorn Clothing and many of the shops at the Renaissance festivals participate in slow fashion. Tune in next time when we talk about all the ways Unicorn Clothing upholds these slow fashion pillars, and has done so since 1973!
See you next time!
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