The term “slow fashion” isn’t new to the English language, but it’s certainly a movement that Philippe Perzi Vienna would like to highlight when it comes to the business of selling classic, high quality menswear. It’s also a theme that’s re-emerged in the media, following the wrap-up of Berlin Fashion Week and inspired us to write about the importance of “slow fashion.”
Slow fashion: What is it?
So, what is “slow fashion”? Slow fashion as opposed to fast fashion, refers to the rejection of quantity over quality, moving away from buying cheap throwaway clothes to investing in fewer, valuable, classic pieces and having an awareness of how our clothing is made, its impact on the environment and the people who make it.
The poor working conditions in Asian factories and toxic chemicals used in fabric production have been brought into sharp focus following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh last year, which resulted in the tragic death of over 1,100 people. If anything worthwhile can come of this tragedy, it is that there has been an increased awareness of the human price that is to be paid so that consumers in the Western world can enjoy a constant and never ending supply of cheap and trendy clothes. This has sparked an interest in the ethics of the textile industry and given the slow fashion movement appeal to a broader market.
Slow fashion is a central Philippe Perzi Vienna ethos
The term “slow fashion” is a familiar concept to Philippe Perzi Vienna. In fact, slow fashion is a movement that we have been practicing since our inception and is a central principle to our business. We take great pleasure in sourcing the finest raw materials sustainably, working with local family businesses and European companies, and producing our shirts, ties and pocket squares with painstaking attention to detail, hand cutting and hand finishing by European artisans, whose working conditions are of course, exceptional.
In addition, part and parcel of Philippe Perzi Vienna’s commitment to quality extends to the environment and the well being of our customers. We are aligned with the “slow fashion” principle of not using chemicals in either the raw materials or the finishing processes of our garments. Did you know that an average pair of jeans on the high street utilises around half a kilo of chemicals? Oh, and those ‘non-iron’ shirts that many retailers spruik use the toxic chemical formaldehyde. (Check out our interactive guide for more details on what separates a high from a low quality shirt). Instead, Philippe Perzi Vienna signature shirts use only eco-friendly fabrics that have been comprehensively screened for harmful substances and are approved under the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which is a global uniform testing and certification system. We consider this certification further proof of the quality of our shirts and a defining characteristic that separates us from other mass-market menswear retailers. It is also a reflection of our respect for the “slow fashion” movement.
Slower, fewer, dearer Vs Faster, more, cheaper?
These days, we’re buying more clothes than ever before. We have more choice, more freedom, more money and less social mores to restrict us, but we’re not necessarily looking any more fashionable, stylish or elegant. In fact, quite the opposite. With fast fashion retailers such as Old Navy, Target and Wal-Mart in the US and H&M, Zara, Primark and Hennes & Maurtitz in the UK and Europe able to turn around the latest trends from design to product in less than 12 days, and able to change up their range 15 times a year, it’s no wonder consumers are faced with a never ending carousel of clothing that is cheap to buy, but seldom lasts a year.
Take a walk down the high street of all but the most style-conscious cities around the world and you’ll find a cacophony of so called ‘fashionable’ types; a mish-mash of what we’d call “charity-bin couture” – clothes that are worn, ill fitting and generally look like they’ve been cast aside in the scrap heap, only to be reincarnated into the latest ‘fashion.’ It’s anything but elegant.
Being in the business of selling men’s clothes, it might strike you as a little counter intuitive to be espousing the benefits of ‘buying less’ – but that’s kind of what we’re suggesting. That is, invest in quality, timeless and classic clothes that are made to stand the test of time. Quality in slow fashion terms however, is not solely a focus on durability; rather it embodies a respect for organic and ethical sources as well as an attempt to preserve local traditions and materials.
At Philippe Perzi Vienna, we understand this perfectly and that is why we make our business from outfitting gentlemen who respect the time honoured tradition of crafting the perfect shirt (our shirts are made using no less than 25 separate pieces and 50 individual steps) and appreciate the passion and dedication we have to our trade.
Slow fashion a go-go
The “slow fashion” movement is gathering momentum amongst a wider range of people. And we couldn’t be happier, given Philippe Perzi Vienna sees this as a signal that people are returning to a more classic style of dress and are starting to actually care about where their garments are made and by whom. If more retailers like us can put their hand over their heart and proudly state that their clothes are made according to the slow fashion principles, then this can only be a good thing for the diminishing art form of tailoring, the environment, you – the consumer and the fashion industry.
Philippe Perzi Vienna – what makes us different, makes you different.
Main photo: A stylish gent (probably a fan of slow fashion) at Berlin Fashion Week 2014. Photo courtesy of Tommy Ton