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I don’t ‘do’ Facebook, but I do occasionally look at others’ pages, and something on the Australian Sewing Guild’s page caught my eye recently. It was called ‘Slow Clothing – 40 garments in 40 days’. Wow, I thought, if I made 40 garments in 40 days I wouldn’t call that slow! At my recent rate of progress 40 garments in 4 years would be more likely.

Of course, all was not what it seemed. The Slow Clothing Project is an initiative by a Queensland sewer (or maker, to use her term) designed to get people to think about where there clothes come from, who made them, and whether they really need yet another pair of jeans. It’s the antithesis of fast fashion, the current cult of buying the latest look, having a whole new wardrobe every season, a new dress for every party, and then just discarding stuff when it’s only been worn once or twice, or maybe even not ever.

The 40 garments will be made by 40 different people, a diverse batch of makers scattered around Australia. Using either cast off clothing, or fabric from their own stashes, they will refashion, recycle, upcycle, reclaim or rework the fabric into new garments. The intention is to demonstrate that even though something isn’t brand new, it can be a useful and stylish garment which can have a new life.

Apparently Australia exports 70 million kilograms of cast off clothing to the third world each year, and presumably other countries are on a par with that. Only 20% of the clothing in op shops actually finds a new home, so even if you give your unwanted clothes to the op shop you aren’t really helping the situation much. Not buying so many new clothes would be far better, and save you money!

I started shopping in op shops some time ago when money was short, and now I still do it, because I can find plenty of things to wear without contributing to the wasteful industry that is high street fashion. Some things I buy to wear just as they are, others get re-fashioned. I’ve recently been shopping for some garments to use for the Castaway to Couture competition, but even that gives me pause. I wanted about 5 garments to use to make my one entry, and I do feel uncomfortable about destroying 5 perfectly good pieces of clothing which somebody else could have bought and worn as they were, whereas I will only end up with one garment. With that in mind I limited myself to shopping for the items which were half price, since I am pretty sure that these are the ones which are destined to go to landfill next week, or shortly anyway. I’m quite happy with what I’ve got, now to start creating!

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