Using the words slow and fashion in the same sentence may sound contradictory. Wait a minute. Isn't a constant need to buy newer, better things the very lifeblood of the fashion industry? Technically, yes, but I think we're all finally starting to wake up to the importance of sustainability within the industry—as in, celebrating the brands that integrate ethical practices at every point in production, from sourcing to selling, not just tacking on the word as a buzzy new way to sell the same thing they were before.
We've covered it before here, but I had never been able to shake my murky perception of slow fashion as something more ambiguous rather than tangible. It wasn't until I stumbled upon an Instagram account selling colorful market bags last summer, and subsequently went about trying to get my hands on one, that the real meaning of slow fashion started to sink in. The brand, Chivatas Bags, seemed to be perpetually sold-out, and in the end, I acquired my very own bag after months of emailing back and forth with the brand, turning on its Instagram post notifications, and waiting patiently for it to hand-make more. (Now do you see why it's called slow fashion?)
My natural curiosity to hunt down the coolest under-the-radar brands took me to down yet another Instagram rabbit hole, landing me on the following eight sustainable fashion brands that bring a lot of life to the often ambiguous term slow fashion. From the French mother-daughter duo behind a certain celeb-loved brand for dreamy blouses to the brand making quirky earrings out of found objects, keep reading to discover and shop the coolest sustainable fashion brands of the moment.
Shop here for: Fun-loving, statement outerwear and hand-painted jackets with a whimsical bend.
What makes it a slow brand: Each piece is designed and created in NYC using reclaimed materials like fur and leather, and almost everything is made to order from the designer's atelier.
Shop here for: Dainty, puff-sleeved blouses that scream summer.
What makes it a slow brand: The mother-daughter duo behind MaisonCléo is based in France, where they hand-make each top in their streamlined collection. The stock is currently sold out online, but keep an eye on their site when they restock key styles each Wednesday.
Shop here for: The colorful beaded bags and fruit-inspired jewelry you've seen splashed across Instagram.
What makes it a slow brand: Each piece is hand-made in NYC by designer Susan Alexandra herself.
Shop here for: Retro, '70s-inspired, faux fur–trimmed coats in an enticing array of candy colors and It prints like leopard and zebra.
What makes it a slow brand: The London-based brand hand-paints all the printed, faux suede, and each collection is made in the UK.
Shop here for: Crafty pendant and seashell earrings, many of which are sold (and meant to be worn) solo.
What makes it a slow brand: Born from the combination of ethics and aesthetics, each piece of Svnr jewelry is crafted from upcycled, natural materials.
Shop here for: Dreamy satin evening bags and pretty baroque pearl jewelry.
What makes it a slow brand: The Miami-based designer behind NST hand-makes each piece to order using original materials and "resulting in a one-of-a-kind product that is as unique as its wearer," according to the brand's site.
Shop here for: Victorian-inspired tops and dresses with puffy sleeves and shirred details.
What makes it a slow brand: The small British clothing line is handmade to order by designer Olivia, who produces each piece from sewing and cutting to packaging and shipping, each with its own personal handwritten note. According to the site, "most pieces take around 4 hours to be made, Olivia can accept up to 30 orders per week, no items are pre-made as Olivia likes to have as little wasted fabrics and resources as possible. She sources and purchases all her fabrics locally in the UK."
Shop here for: Mini market bags in an array of rainbow colors that capture the easygoing feel of summer dressing.
What makes it a slow brand: Small batches are handmade in Spain, where varying colors and patterns rotate in and out of stock.