I became aware of Slow Fashion October at the very end of the month of October, last year. It was around then that I started following the Fringe Association blog regularly.
It really got me thinking about what “slow fashion” means to me. What I realized was the way I live my life embodies the “slow” movement.
This is no accident. It is how I was raised. Growing up, my siblings and I were lucky enough to have grandparents in our young lives every day. My paternal grandparents were immigrants to this country from Yugoslavia. They suffered many hardships during World War II and came here to have freedom and a better life. My maternal grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They also knew hardship and sacrifice.
My paternal grandparents came to America in the 1950s. They started a Serbian restaurant at an age most people would be thinking about retirement. I watched my Baba Milunka cook. There were no microwaves. Everything was cooked slow and low to extract all of the flavor from the ingredients. She also used every little bit of everything. Nothing ever went to waste. This is the basis for how I cook: fresh ingredients, slow and low, thoughtful meal planning to make the most of my ingredients and eating local and what is in season. I have never owned a microwave. I cook and bake most everything from scratch.
My maternal grandparents were equally influential in the way they chose to live their lives. There was no extravagance to their lifestyle. Yet, they took pleasure in the simple things in life. Both my grandparents worked. Grammy Isabelle was a working mother, at a time when this was the exception, rather than the rule.
Both my grandmothers had busy lives. Yet, they were makers. My Baba sewed her own clothes and mended everybody else’s in the family. She taught me to knit, at the kitchen table, at the restaurant. My Grammy crocheted and embroidered. One summer, she and Pop Pop drove out for a long visit. It was that trip where I sat in the backyard and learned to embroider.
We have gone from preserving, maintaining and repairing things to being a throw-away society. Everything is fast and really, not fast enough. We have become wasteful.
In our need for fast everything, we have sacrificed quality and durability. Fast fashion is one result. Clothes are churned out of poor materials, that over time, do not wear well. This constant need for more things, the “new” look has cost us. To meet our demand, factories employ people, mostly women and children, who work in deplorable conditions for unbelievably low wages.
This is far from the lessons of my grandmothers. It led to an incongruity within myself. I felt like I wasn’t living in a way that exemplified what I believed. It started with a purge of things in my closet that I didn’t wear. I donated everything I could because I thought someone else could make use of what I wasn’t. I created a framework for buying anything new:
1. I have to absolutely love it to buy it.
2. I look for quality materials and well-made pieces.
3. I invest in timeless, classic designs.
4. If I can’t find what I want, can I make it?
It has made getting dressed a pleasure. I love my clothes. Each season, I rediscover the pieces in my wardrobe. It is the same comfortable feeling you get when you are among old friends.
Going back to my maker roots, has been the most rewarding. There is the obvious joy and pride that comes from making something. My desire for made things has pushed me to learn new skills. Every time I tackle a daunting project, I develop more confidence. The best part, through, is I feel connected to my grandmothers. My hands are making the same movements their’s did. I am feeling the yarn, thread and cloth just like they did. It brings me a sense of wholeness. It is home.
#slowfashionoctober #fringeandfriendskal2016 #knittersofinstagram #threebrothersrestaurant