Exploring Slow Fashion Minimalism for Look Good + Do Good

When you first hear “Slow Fashion,” it sounds like a paradox. Mainstream fashion is a $3 trillion dollar global industry and certainly not slow. Slow Fashion calls for careful consumption. It asks us to stop and think about what we are doing. What impact our purchases can have on individuals and the places where we all work, live, and visit. Dr. Kate Fletcher’s "Craft of Use" Slow Fashion project highlights how people can care for and wear clothes to last as long as possible. The recent "Loved Clothes Last" Fashion Revolution fanzine provides a key message: “Buy less, choose well.” This is the call of Slow Fashion minimalism. 

Kathleen, Founder of Kámen Road, explains what minimalism means for her brand. “For me, minimalism is the opposite of that controlled, rigid, stark image. Minimalism to me is creating space and openness and the opportunity to connect more. My goal is to eliminate the standard consumer polarities like need versus want, elegant versus casual, luxury versus essential. In our quality, materials, and design, the goal is to bridge it all.”

As explored here, Minimalism can be a way to liberate ourselves from unnecessary, material things. It is a path towards enjoying life and treasuring experiences. “Experiential purchases” celebrate a lifestyle of minimalism. Our purchases become part of our memories and the emotional connection we develop.  

Even though minimalism has reemerged as a fashion trend, Slow Fashion minimalism provides a foundational philosophy to search for and select timeless and seasonless designs. Design and material choice are where Kámen Road aligns with minimalism the most. With Slow Fashion minimalism, Kámen Road pushes further to ensure ethics and both artisan industry and small quantity production are the way of business.

If we look back at Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we remember that after survival, people seek to feel safe, loved, build their self-esteem, and achieve “self actualization.” Maslow defines this as the ability of a person to “become everything that one is capable of becoming.” A minimalist Slow Fashion approach asks us to carefully think about how our purchases contribute to who we want to be from an ethical perspective.

Dr. Helen TrejoGuest Blogger for Sustainable Research & Education, Kámen Road

[Photo Credits Vincent Xarya and Jenn Kubat]

Helen Trejo Author Bio

My interests in fashion began by watching my grandmother sew clothing for my twin sister and I in Los Angeles. She learned how to sew in El Salvador and worked in LA clothing factories. I drew hundreds of designs and learned how to sew when I was 16. I attended Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, UC Davis (BA), and Cornell University (MA, PhD) to pursue my interests in design, sustainability, and research. Inspired by Slow Fashion and Fibershed movements, I devoted the past five years to explore the intersections of fashion and agriculture in New York. I conducted survey and interview research with fiber farmers, fiber mill owners, and designers. This led me to gain a deeper understanding of the farm-to-fashion value chain, and entrepreneurs’ commitments to sustainable economic development. I am excited to be a guest blogger for Kámen Road and share my perspective!

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