Slow fashion: forever yours
Wednesday 7 July 2010
“The economy has led people to be more considered about the way they spend money on clothes – it’s neither wise nor a good look to spend money on something that you’ll wear a couple of times before it falls apart or you tire of it – so that means either simple wardrobe builders or really special pieces,” says Anita Borzyszkowska, vice-president of global PR for Gap. On the shelves at Gap this has meant the launch of very focused ranges. The chain’s latest black trousers are a modern shape, which tapers through the leg so they sit, with a neat turnup, on the ankle.
Next week, Selfridges will launch something called a Forever Shop, in London’s Oxford Street and online, which the store’s creative director Alannah Weston intends to act as an edited one-stop boutique for design classics. The approach is egalitarian. Hermès silk scarves and Converse trainers will sit alongside Bic lighters, Muji tableware and Sonia Rykiel breton tops (the breton being a classic of slow fashion, in that it almost never looks wrong). Weston says the new shop is a response to more value-conscious consumers in search of good design, plus, she notes, an increase in “item-driven shopping” over trends.
This is a major step change. Fast fashion, with its swift turnaround of catwalk-inspired pieces, has dominated the high street for the bulk of this decade. But it isn’t just the economic climate that has sparked a distaste for fast-spent, short-lived pieces. The return of minimalism – its comeback can be traced precisely to 5 October 2009 when Phoebe Philo showed her first collection for the previously fusty house of Céline – has also played a part. Her debut collection featured high-waisted, wide-leg trousers in coffee, a perfect white scarf-front silk blouse and lean, soft leather pieces.
The idea of refining and giving essential wardrobe items a new modern feel has been central to Philo’s influence. Nicola Rose, creative and fashion director at Red magazine says: “The new minimalist look is slick and stylish – and if you’re a clever shopper, made up of pieces you can wear for ever.”
Slow, or forever, fashion doesn’t have to be expensive – Converse All Stars qualify for the title as readily as Louboutin pumps – though it can be. Intriguingly, even at the standard bearers for fast fashion, there has been a move towards imitating the slow fashion look. In March, Peacocks’s simple Chloé-inspired £10 satchel sold out within a week. Now, will it last?