What is Slow Fashion & How Terrera Works Towards a Greener Future

In an ever changing world comes quickly changing trends, interests, hobbies, and fashion. We are constantly shown advertisements, sponsored posts, and influencer content promoting “why you NEED this product” or  “5 things to buy this week”, especially during large sales like Black Friday that promote overconsumption. Being a conscious buyer has become harder and harder over the years. Many brands claim to be practicing sustainability, or using eco-friendly materials when that is not the case once you read into the fine print. 

So how does one look for brands who are true to their values, and avoid overconsumption and fast fashion in general? First, let’s look at what exactly fast fashion is, compared to slow fashion. 

Fast Fashion: Think overconsumption, overproduction, cheap fabrics, thousands of styles, and pushy marketing promoting quantity over quality, and in turn, contributing to the push of buying culture. 

Slow Fashion: It can be tricky, and overwhelming, when searching for a truly sustainable brand. To define slow fashion, we couldn’t have said it better than how Good On You defines it: “Slow fashion encompasses an awareness and approach to fashion that carefully considers the processes and resources required to make clothing”. These brands focus not only on creating garments made of sustainable fabrics, but also reducing consumption and production. 

So how does fast fashion impact the world?

Fast fashion has a tendency for overproducing, pushing sales, creating cheap clothing fast, and caring little for the environmental impact or quality of their clothing/products.

The impacts of fast fashion are extreme, and should be more well-known. According to a McKinsey study, for every 5 garments produced, 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year. Fast fashion can contribute to the following:

  1. Water usage: Water waste is a major issue within the clothing industry. A single garment can waste thousands of liters of water in its production. According to MDPI, the fashion industry uses about 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. 
  2. Pollution: With excessive water usage comes the disposal of that water usage. After using harmful chemicals and dyes to process the clothing, this contaminated water finds its way back into our water systems, contributing to major water pollution. The production of the clothing leads to pollution, and it continues long after it has been shipped to stores. Fabrics like polyester, which is one of the most common fibres, use the same material found in plastic bottles. Everytime these clothes are washed, microfibres are passed into the waterways and end up back into bodies of water and into our food chain.
  3. Low wages, unsafe working conditions: When clothes are offered at extremely low prices, this could be a sign that they are also cheap to produce, meaning the laborers that work making these clothes are paid less.
  4. Overconsumption + Waste: With cheap clothes and low-quality fabrics comes higher rates of clothes ending up in landfills. It’s a treacherous circle: creating mass amounts of garments → in the production, wasting water, polluting their air → selling for low costs with cheap fabrics → contributing to landfills after the garments break down after a year of wearing them and consumers opt to throw them out vs. donate them. 

How to know if a brand is ‘Fast Fashion’ or ‘Slow Fashion’?

Fast Fashion:

  • Thousands of styles, which tap into the latest fashion trends - if you’re seeing new pieces added to your favourite stores often, with new collections more than a few times a year, this is a red flag to spot a fast fashion brand.
  • Marketing to buy into new trends, weekly - along with many styles come many collection launches. If a brand is consistently sending newsletters of ‘new items’ or ‘new collection launches’, this is a clear sign of overproduction. 
  • The price - if you’re seeing extremely low prices across all garments, there’s a good chance the time and effort put into the production of the clothing is not being reflected in workers' pay.
  • Cheap, low quality materials - look into the fabrics of the garments. A good sign that a brand is considered fast fashion is one that utilizes a lot of low quality and cheap fabrics. Many brands cut corners to create low quality, cheap items to keep up with microtrends. Look out for polyester, which is essentially plastic. These cheaper fabrics are known to break down and are short-term wears.

Slow Fashion:

  • Made from lower-impact, high quality fabrics - like bamboo 
  • Timeless styles vs. trendy with fewer styles per collection, a well as fewer collections launched per year (usually bi-annual collections)
  • Transparent about production process
  • Look for certifications: B-Corp, OEKO-Tex, etc.
  • How a brand packages their clothing - slow fashion brands care about all aspects of sustainability, not just the clothes themselves. Using compostable or recyclable packaging is important in a slow fashion business.
  • Few styles per collection

How does Terrera work towards a greener future?

Terrera started back in 2007 - a time when sustainable sourcing was new in the Canadian fashion industry. Since then, we have focused on sourcing the most sustainable options possible for a small brand, releasing 2 collections per year, and creating timeless styles.

“We believe that earth is a gift, given to us to be cherished.”

Earth Friendly Fibres: Our founders had a strong focus on creating garments that not only fit and flatter all women, but also have less impact on the planet with more sustainable alternatives to conventional counterparts. In all of our products, we include certified organic bamboo and/or organic cotton in our fabrications. All of our clothing and home products, including every thread, button, stitching, and fabric dyes are free of harmful substances and have the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification. Our fabric dyes are low-impact, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic. Most of our products are fabricated with bamboo, where we use OCIA certified organic viscose from bamboo grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. To recycle water and recapture the chemicals used to process our bamboo, we used a ‘closed-loop’ process. We are continually sourcing other earth-friendly fabrications to introduce to our brand. 

Conscious Production: Everyone who is involved in producing our clothing, from the farms, to the mills, to the factories, are cared for equally. We’ve built long-term relationships with our partners overseas in China, ensuring that they exceed national standards for health and safety, workplace conditions and workers’ protection. Once our garments are ready to be shipped to our office in Ontario, we slowly ship by sea to reduce our ecological footprint further.

Eco-Friendly Packaging: Not only do we focus on using environmentally-friendly materials in our products, we also consider the packaging. Other brands use single-use plastics for their products - we wanted to change that. The opaque bags that your garments are wrapped in are compostable and can be reused as a compost bag for your bin or in your gardens. Our product tags are made of cardboard and are pinned onto clothing using safety pins. You can reuse the safety pins and recycle the cardboard tags!

Finding a truly sustainable, slow fashion brand can be tricky, but our best tip is research, research, research! Read the brand’s ‘About Us’ pages, find information about their fabrics, production processes, packaging, or anything mentioning their sustainable practices. Look for transparency in the brand. Try searching the brand on ‘Good On You’ to view their ratings on a brand's sustainability to help you narrow down which brands are truly sustainable by providing an overall rating as well as ratings on animals, people, and planet values. Next time you’re making a purchase, make sure to read in-depth on the brand's values and virtues to help make a conscious choice!

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