Slow fashion has caused a major impact in recent years, but what exactly is this movement and why is the role of Finnish designers and manufacturers considered so important?
The History of Slow Fashion
Slow fashion is a term similar to other popular movements like slow food and slow travel. Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion is credited with first using this name. Designers such as Katharine Hamnett and Giorgio Armani had already shown interest in a more sustainable approach back in the 1990s, but this was also a time of incredible growth for international fashion chains.
It is about a responsible, sustainable approach to fashion that aims for quality, eco-friendly garments that will stand the test of time. This contrasts with the fast-fashion approach that involves huge, multi-national chains that cycle rapidly between seasons and dispose of old stock in a way that damages the planet.
The three key principles of the movement are a local approach, the use of a transparent production process and sustainable end products. The broad definitions that are used mean that slow fashion could involve buying a low-cost garment from a thrift store or choosing an expensive new item made from recycled or organic materials.
Why It Has Become Popular in Finland
The ideas behind slow fashion fit in well with the Finnish way of living, which is heavily based on simplicity and respecting nature. An example of a local brand that has embraced these concepts is Marimekko. Founded by Armi Ratia in 1951, their clothing line is all about creating garments that would last for decades. Other brands have followed, with Ivana Helsinki and Samuji among the Finnish clothing lines taking a sustainable approach.
Seija Lukkala is behind Global Hope, which had the world’s first up-cycled fashion show in Helsinki in 2003. 2018’s Fashion Week in Helsinki then marked a turning point, as it was the first time this event was 100% sustainable. Organizer Evelyn Mora created a zero-waste environment powered by renewable energy sources and including eco-friendly food and beauty products, as well as recycled materials.
Discounts and offers remain as important in the clothing industry here as in other types of business. A look at the Finnish retail scene reveals that Marimekko offers 20% off selected items and that Global Hope gives its customers a free canvas bag for orders over €100. There is no longer any need for consumers to believe that sustainable clothing has to be more expensive, especially since they are products designed to last a long time.
These discounts tie in with what people expect from other industries in Finland. Beliani promises up to 70% off furniture. A look at their site also confirms that subscribers get exclusive vouchers. Adidas offers a 20% discount on its footwear. In terms of entertainment, the Kalevala kasino has a bonus offer for new players. Finnish users can play over 2,000 slots games and live dealer titles using this bonus cash.
The Future of Slow Fashion
The impact of the slow fashion movement is difficult to put into numbers. However, research from Mintel has shown that the number of people buying clothes regularly fell in 2018, which is perhaps a sign that consumers are tired of the idea of buying cheap, throwaway clothing every month.
Over time, the biggest impact may be that which has seen global brands like H&M and Zara forced to introduce sustainable collections and focus more on ethical processes. In particular, H&M was heavily criticized for burning old stock, with some estimates suggesting that the Swedish manufacturer disposed of up to 12 tons of unsold garments in this way every year.
Slow fashion has struck a chord with consumers all over the planet, nowhere more so than in Finland. If you want to keep an eye on future ideas in this movement, it is worth looking at what Finnish designers and manufacturers are up to.