You might have heard of the slow movement—it’s been around for more than 30 years, even if it hasn’t received wide-spread attention until more recently. The movement began in Italy in the 1980s with Carlo Petrini’s idea of slow food. He wanted to turn the focus and emphasis of food consumption away from fast food and fast convenience to savoring meals—often made from scratch with local ingredients—along with the conversation and company at the dinner table. From there, a whole movement of slow living expanded on these ideas of slowing down to enjoy life and to put purpose and intention behind our consumption and buying habits.
Now you can find blogs and communities embracing slow food, slow living, slow travel, slow fashion, and, you guessed it, slow shopping.
The rushed modern life often leads to hasty shopping, spending, and consumption decisions, which favors quantity and convenience over quality and experience. The end result is sacrificing long-lasting, deep satisfaction with our purchases. The rise of fast fashion is a prime example of this. But, as people have become aware of the consequences of fast fashion and unquenchable consumption, they’ve begun looking for another option: slow shopping!
Slow shopping involves moving with confident purpose in a commercial space and finding joy in sensations beyond the rush of a purchase. It allows for personal connections with brands (especially if you shop local!), deeper knowledge of your purchases, pride and joy in what you decide to spend money on, and even the small thrills of smelling fresh food and feeling fabrics in physical stores! Browsing in store becomes a leisurely, enriching experience that’s not overly focused on buying.
supermarkets are embracing slow shopping principles to aid those in the community who might need a little extra time or assistance shopping, like the elderly or those with special needs. During set hours in the week, the stores turn off music and other noises and non–cash register screens, have extra employees on hand, and put chairs at the end of aisles for those who need to rest. Slow shopping makes the experience more accessible and enjoyable for more customers.
For the majority of consumers, their introduction to slow shopping stars with slow fashion as a response to the detrimental human rights and environmental impacts of fast fashion. Slow fashion focuses on the process, resources, and sustainability of clothing production, with the goal of purchasing and owning fewer, but higher-quality, garments that last longer and support the fair treatment of workers and the planet.
If you would like to begin embracing slow shopping and slow fashion, here’s a good place to start.
Shop with a list – This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy window shopping and browsing! But don’t leave your purchases up to chance, impulse, or friends’ prompting. Making a list beforehand limits the scope of your search and helps guarantee you’ll walk away with something that fills a need in your wardrobe. It also allows you to enjoy taking your time looking for a particular item.
Shop alone – It can be fun to shop with trusted friends and family, but how often do their well-intentioned prompts and opinions lead to only half-considered purchases you later regret? Shopping alone can open the space in your mind for un-pressured deliberation.
Do you love it? – Slow shopping and slow fashion should sharpen your opinions on what really brings you joy. You should love every piece that you own and wear. If you have more time to consider purchases, you’re less likely to be rushed into spending money on things you only feel so-so about. And who doesn’t want a closet with only clothes they love and are proud to own and wear?
Implement a cooling off period – This step can help as you begin to be a slow fashion shopper. Instead of ripping off tags on new apparel and tossing the receipt the second you get home, give yourself a week to see if items truly fit your needs and current wardrobe. This gives you the opportunity to return items that aren’t as perfect as they seemed in the dressing room.