Slow Fashion (And A Simple Formula for Figuring Out Your Dharma - Updated 2018)
"Much of what we produce to sell each other to earn our living is crap. Either ever more luxurious, specialized goods like electronic temple massagers and personal oxygen bars or cheap salty junk food and disposable clothing. Every piece of crap, because it was manufactured, contains with it something of the priceless: applied human intelligence, for one, natural capital for another - something taken from a forest or a river or the soil that cannot be replaced faster than we deplete it." - Yvonne Chouinard, The Responsible Company
In this post I will teach you what Fast Fashion is, how to figure out your life's purpose and why Ekaminhale is following the Slow Fashion Model instead. All in 10 mins.
This post is part of a 4 Part Mini Course called Slow Fashion.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion Characteristics
1. Numerous fashion cycles - In the past there were two fashion seasons. Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Now companies are promoting up to 52 "micro-seasons" designed to get customers buy more and more often. Since their clothing goes out of style in a week the customers feel they are out of style and need to get the latest release.
2. Inexpensive - dirt cheap prices that don't account for the true cost which includes things like the time of the people who made it plus the effect it has on the environment.
3. Massive quantities produced - 10's of thousands at a time as fast as possible and as cheap as possible creating deadlines, long working hours and stress in the pursuit of more for less.
4. Low Quality - due to speed and amount produced the quality suffers and with the business model being cheap and disposable the idea is don't worry about it just throw it out and you can buy another one.
5. Customers encouraged to make numerous purchases - low prices, numerous fashion cycles all lead to buying more and more.
6. Massive waste -
"The average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year. We’re not talking about clothing being donated to charity shops or sold to consignment stores, that 68 pounds of clothing is going directly into landfills. Because most of our clothing today is made with synthetic, petroleum-based fibers, it will take decades for these garments to decompose." - Huffingtonpost.com "5 Truths About Fast Fashion"
7. Harmful to the Environment - the textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water in the world according the World Bank. They estimate that 20% of the water pollution in the world comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles. 
One of the ways the Fast Fashion model was made possible was by using synthetic materials like polyester. If you Google yoga towel you will see that they are all made from microfiber. What we are now starting to realize is that when we wash these synthetic materials they release tiny plastic fibers which are polluting our waters on a massive scale. I'll share more about this is the series plus what you can do to at least minimize the damage.
So as you can see it's not really a win win situation we have going on in the Fast Fashion world. You could say that the business and the customer benefit but there is one big loser in this model.
A Simple Formula for Figuring Out Your Dharma
When I say nature I mean the earth which we take from to create the product and the people who used their lives to produce it.
Until recently I had no idea this was actually going on since I’m not much of a shopper. I actually dislike shopping which is why I made the first Ekaminhale tank top in the first place.
I grew up here. That's my backyard.
We have recently moved back to Jasper National Park to start our own yoga/nature retreat space and truthfully I would rather spend my days being in nature after practice hiking and climbing than dealing with suppliers, shipping issues, emails etc.
Who wouldn’t? But.....
When we were in India I interviewed Harmony Lichty and she said something that really stuck with me about figuring out what to do in your life. Super simple.
“If there is a need and you can fill it that is your Dharma”
Now I find myself in this position with two needs that I have the ability to fill:
1. Your need to get tools for your practice
2. Nature’s need to not get screwed in the process
My approach has never been to put my energy into what's wrong like say a campaign against all the "bad" companies out there but instead to put my efforts towards building what can help.
Before someone says "But you sell non organic shirts!"
I'm learning as I go here and I don't have all the answers. I'm not doing everything that can be done right this moment but I am moving in that direction to best of my ability given the knowledge and resources I have possible.
(Update 2018 - Organic Cotton Tank Tops Summer 2018)
What If I Did The Opposite?
"Slow Fashion is the movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. Slow fashion encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste." - study-ny.com
1. No Fashion Cycles - I could not care a less about fashion cycles so this hasn't been happening and won't ever be happening with Ekaminhale. In fact a lot of us are still wearing the first tank tops I made. (Darby and David Robson included).
I've always just created then released when they were ready. It takes awhile and that mostly because I spend my time practicing yoga and learning instead.
2. Not Inexpensive - I've done it with the rugs and will also be doing it with the shirts but I'm working in the true cost of these products which is left out. This includes giving back to nature and the people that need it through charities, using eco friendly packaging and spending the time to understand the supply chain.
3. Small Quantities - the rugs are hand loomed as you've seen so even when I order them it takes months before they can make them. This is just reality. Natural things made by craftsmen take time.
4. High Quality - as I said before you won't need to keep buying these over and over. They are meant to last a lifetime and be used for many years. These are "time tested" . Our teacher's were using them for years before all the technical innovations came out. Plus for the rugs we offer 2 years warranty.
5. Don't Buy Often - Save your money, save your time and just buy what you need. Instead tell a friend to start yoga and buy one so I can stay in business. Seriously though I am not creating a business that works like that. I am creating quality products that last so you can spend your time practicing instead of shopping.
6. Less Waste - As I mentioned in another post once you have a mat and then a couple rugs you are good for years maybe decades. No need to keep buying new mats and then throwing the old ones in the garbage. The rugs protect the mats from wearing out and when you are done with your rugs use them as beach blankets or for sitting on the grass.
7. Less Harm To the Environment- I believe we are helping the environment just by practicing since it brings back that connection to the natural world but on a purely practical level just not consuming so much is one step in the right direction and then through the steps we are taking in our Environmental Policy I am working to reducing our environmental footprint as much as possible. Things like using organic cotton, GOTS standards and recycled packaging.
One of the best ways to lessen your environmental impact I'll get to in Email 4
It's funny how people like myself and Yvonne end up in "business". For both of us being in business and making money was never our top priority. He wanted to rock climb and I wanted to learn more about yoga and the shops were way of supporting those interests. As I get more involved in this industry I can see just how important this is.
Yoga first. Nature first. Business second.