Block printing Hollyblocks garments

What does slow fashion mean and why is it important?

Being stylish shouldn’t cost the earth, yet modern shopping habits can be incredibly destructive to our environment. The rise of fast fashion in the UK - and worldwide - has led to a throwaway attitude to shopping among many consumers. As people’s consumption of fast fashion has risen, so too have greenhouse gas emissions, textile waste and unethical treatment of workers.

So what’s the solution? How can we continue to dress up, feel good and celebrate our individuality through clothing without contributing to landfills and pollution levels? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, mindful shopping and sustainable slow fashion can go a long way to helping reduce waste. Here’s everything you need to know about slow fashion:

What's the definition of slow fashion?

Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. Where fast fashion celebrates cheap, hyper-trendy, always-new clothing, slow fashion is about being mindful and aware when shopping. Slow fashion celebrates buying high-quality clothing in lower quantities than the fast fashion lifecycle. It advocates buying thoughtfully and checking the materials and processes used to make clothing. Finally, slow fashion champions transparent supply chains, sustainable materials, reduced production levels and fair working conditions. 

Looking for slow fashion resources? Check out: Advocate Aja Barber, good on you for ethical brand rankings and articles, and the Conscious Chatter podcast.

What's the difference between slow, ethical and sustainable fashion?


While there are a lot of similarities between slow, ethical and sustainable fashion, there are also differences:

  • Slow fashion tends to focus on the intention behind a garment, especially reduced consumption and production.
  • Ethical fashion is about how clothing gets made, including the origins of materials, the treatment of garment workers and the work conditions of everyone involved in the production process.
  • Sustainable fashion emphasises the impact clothing has on the environment. Sustainable fashion brands will consider water consumption, waste creation, energy emissions and the use of chemicals when producing and selling their products.

Why is slow fashion so crucial for the UK?

Countries worldwide can benefit from adopting slower and more sustainable fashion choices, and the UK is no exception. People in the UK buy more new clothes than any other European nation, according to a 2019 report by the Environmental Audit Committee, and 300,000 tonnes of clothing end up either in landfills or incinerated every year.

This fast fashion addiction is highly damaging to the environment. A McKinsey study shows that for every five new garments produced in a year, three are thrown away. Many of these are made from polyester, which is made from fossil fuels, spreads microfibres into the air and water and takes 200 years to decompose. This means that one five-minute, five-pound purchase can last many lifetimes - and not in a good way.

How can I be more mindful of my fashion choices?

No one's perfect, and we're all learning how to be better with our consumption. There are so many small and large steps you can take to become more mindful and sustainable with your fashion!

Try block print fabrics

If you love patterns and vibrant colours, block print fabrics are a great slow fashion option. The block printing process is detailed and manual, with designs hand carved onto wooden blocks before the blocks are painted and then hand-stamped onto fabric. It's an ancient process that hasn't been automated or industrialised in any way, resulting in beautiful handmade pieces of clothing that are truly a labour of love.

Buy less, choose well

Want to avoid contributing to landfills? Buy less fast fashion, and ensure that any clothing you purchase is something you genuinely love and will wear for years.

Reach for quality fabrics and well-made garments

Fast fashion is generally made from fabrics which are quick and cheap to produce, which can lead to environmental issues as well as poor quality clothing. Save the planet and your bank balance by investing in high-quality pieces in long-lasting fabrics such as organic cotton, linen and hemp. Natural, non-toxic dyes, like the ones we use at Hollyblocks, are also a more sustainable choice.

Consider production and supply chains 

Think about the people behind your clothing! Fast fashion brands often rely on giant warehouses for manufacturing, where staff are not always paid or treated fairly. Ethical and slow fashion brands should be transparent about their production processes.

Choose UK slow fashion brands

Luckily for us, many slow fashion brands in the UK produce some beautiful clothes! Check out good on you's round-up of some of the most ethical and sustainable clothing brands in the UK, or head right to Hollyblocks' online store to pick up a block print dress or handmade quilted jacket.

Start your slow fashion journey with Hollyblocks

Our collections are designed and produced with love. We're inspired by nature (you'll see flower prints across many of our garments!) and believe sustainable fashion doesn't need to be dowdy. We love romantic dresses, swishy skirts and tie-back tops as much as the next girl!

We use soft organic cotton and natural and non-toxic dyes. Our garments are handmade with love by families of artisans in India, and we create limited-edition small quantities to help reduce our carbon footprint. 

We're proud to create fashion for the free spirit, and we hope you love it as much as we do! 

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Looking for fashion inspiration? Check out our blog on packing essentials for a warm weather getaway.

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