quipped the legendary philosopher Lao Tzu nearly 2000 years ago.

In today’s ever-transcending world of fast fashion, where trends whiz by in a constant quest for the ‘next big thing’ – impaled by quicksilver manufacturing schedules, gargantuan production volumes and benumbing scales of global pollution – this century-old counter philosophy rings true more than ever before.

When Professor Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the University of Arts London, f rst coined the term ‘Slow Fashion’, in line with the phenomena of the slow food movement, she was calling out the need for a slower pace in the fashion industry. She had proposed a strategy that placed the planet and its people f rst – but before long, it had set the stage to redesign the global fashion agenda.

The fashion industry is estimatedto be worth £ 1.34 trillion inannual global retail sales today; by 2021.

This is predicted to increase by approximately $1 06 billion.It doesn’t come as a surprise though that an industry this

size has an equally gigantic carbon footprint. At around 1 0% of the global carbon emissions, the industry produces nearly 1 .7 billion tonnes of CO2 each year contributing heavily to global heating – 5 times more than the aviation industry alone, and more than all international f ights and maritime shipping combined.

The clothing industry consumes excessive volumes of water too, for the growth of raw materials, and its use of pesticides, synthetic materials, and other toxic chemicals such as fabric dyes, damage the soil and water sources for local communities, and the planet’s biodiversity at large. What’s worse, of the 80 billion new garments that are produced globally every year currently, nearly 75% of all supply chain material and clothing produced eventually ends up in landf lls and incinerator sites:

almost the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles per second!

Needless to say, this calls for urgent action for enhanced sustainability measures, but
How do you tackle an industry with annual global retail sales worth more than the Russian economy?

Thankfully now, we have hope, in the form of ‘Slow Fashion’. A greener, low waste, ethically responsible alternative form of fashion that embraces quality, longevity and style that does not harm the planet. Over the last few years, Slow Fashion has evolved into a worldwide movement – an awareness and approach to fashion that considers not just the quality of the final product, but also the processes and resources that go into its making.

Slow Fashion embraces the need for eco-friendly processes and resources of production and ethical brand practices that reduce global wastage and carbon footprints – in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – while striving to inculcate a sense of responsibility to the environment and sustainable consumer habits. It emphasizes the need for high quality nature-friendly garments that last longer, and values the fair treatment of the planet, its people and all its inhabitants.


Embracing slow, is in many ways investing in a rewarding lifestyle transformation. It is learning to live in harmony with nature and the earth we inhabit. It is saying no to mindless consumerism and saying yes to recycling, renting, swapping, borrowing, second-hand fashion or opting for 1 00% organic sustainable wear and other such planet-friendly alternatives.

As friends of Vanaras, you would possibly already know that ‘Slow Fashion’ is not just a widespread counteraction to Fast Fashion – it is an absolute movement in itself. From the sourcing of the fabric and labour locally; to encouraging the involvement of artisans and farmers in the production of these clothes; to employing absolute fair trade practices, and engaging in the certif cation of all products and raw materials-down to the dyes (natural, non-toxic chemical-free dyes) and fabrics used (plant based vegan non-synthetic eco-friendly Organic Cotton, Linen & Tencel for instance), to minimising wastes and the use of water and energy resources – it calls for assured quality standards, and protection of interests at an all-round scale – of the makers, the sellers and the consumers.

Small wonder, a 1 00% sustainable label may often warrant a sizeable price tag; but the quality, longevity, chemical-free certif cation, guarantee of minimal waste and absolute peace of mind of eco-friendly sustainability, more than calls for a celebration of this life-changing elixir. After all, as sustainability advocate Anna Lappé has famously remarked,

“Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

So the question is, really, in the end game of fast versus slow, what would you rather choose?