How I create slow fashion
I feel like it’s time to have a little talk about slow fashion and how I am dedicated to this term in my work.
A lot has happened since I started my natural dye journey in Bali last year. My first lessons came from Indonesian traditions and colors. I then started experimenting with avocado and onion dye from local food waste and this was when I got hooked. I had always lacked that hands on approach to fashion and textiles, and this opened a new world to me, where I could play and get beautiful results, while exploring the powers of nature. The long process of researching dyestuff in the region, going out to forage, prepare the fabric for dyeing, make the dye, wait for the color to extract properly, dye the fabric, rinse the fabric, wait for it to dry and then often repeat the process to add more color. All this taught me the beauty of a slow process, and how it creates a product with so much meaning and intention in it. During the next 10 months I spent most of my time in Bali, exploring color and writing my bachelor thesis about permaculture, localism and natural dyeing.
Fast forward to now, I have found my way of expression through working with nature and luxurious fabrics, to create wearable pieces of art. And the process is perhaps even more slow now. My time in Bali taught me a lot about my role as a designer and how I would like to use it. I want to tell a story, while I create meaningful, longlasting garments. One of the biggest problems in the fashion industry is the heavy consumption and our “buy and throw away culture”. We quickly get bored with our products, if they don’t develop together with us, and then we seek new material things to get that quick fix and excitement, which lasts only for a very short time. This is my biggest concern. The world is overflowing with brand new products that people are bored with, and nature simply cannot handle that much waste. As a sustainable designer, I aim to create products that are longlasting in terms of style, color, quality and shape. Timeless garments with a story, that makes you want to use them over and over again. This is not an easy task.
Since I mostly work with local plants and dyestuff I find in my garden or nearby, the season decides which colors are available to work with. It takes days and weeks of experiments to explore and develop a small range of colors. When the colors are ready, I then start dyeing the fabric or garments. I build layers and add petals and hand wash and dry it several times in between. I come back to the garment the next day and decide what else I need to add, to make it perfect. It’s a process of intuition, failure, success and starting over again. You can’t erase plant dye, so it’s even more complex than painting a picture. But the imperfections and surprises are very welcome as they add a touch of the hands making, and tell a story about how nature works.
This week, when I opened my pop-up shop at the sustainable store Another View in Copenhagen, I realized how little products I had created for the past six months or so. I came back the day after to find out that four products had been sold, and my window looked a little empty. I felt a bit stressed because I didn’t have anything new ready to fill the gap. After a talk with Dorthe, one of the three women who own the store, I remembered that I really commit to my way of producing slowly and not putting anything out into the world until it’s complete. I went home and continued my work on a few items that will hopefully be ready to enter the store next week, but who knows? If they’re not ready they’re just not. I don’t work at the same pace as the biggest part of the industry does, and I don’t intend to do so. I work according to the natural seasons and how the color behave. It cannot be forced nor rushed, and this gives me a huge sense of calm in my work and life. There is something so raw and beautiful about surrendering to the force of nature and slowing down in a fast paced world. I am immensely happy that this is where I landed, and I hope that my customers and community appreciate the thought behind each and every product.