Bali and the Slow Fashion Movement

Insight Bali

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Bali and the Slow Fashion Movement

Of all the movements in the fashion industry, one of the more enduring ones in the recent decade has been ‘Slow Fashion’. Slow has never been as chic and in-trend as it is now, with fashion hubs like New York and Paris embracing this movement and even large brand houses like Gucci embracing its philosophy. While its counterpart, Fast Fashion, is better-known thanks to a few major players such as Uniqlo, Zara and H&M, the explosion of independent designers and brands representing this movement, represents an immense source of socially responsible fashion innovation illuminating the world of fashion.

Bali, however, has always been at the forefront of Slow Fashion. In fact, its fashion eco-system has been thriving long before Slow Fashion as a concept became mainstream. So what is Slow Fashion and how has Bali’s fashion scene stayed ahead of the curve?

Slow Fashion is about consuming and creating fashion and answering the question not just what you are buying, but why you are. It is about respecting the social and environmental aspects of the production process, the longevity of what is produced and is the antithesis of Fast Fashion with its emphasis on short fashion cycles, low prices and immediate gratification. The connection to the culture where it is produced is also key in representing something authentic and unique. The end game is a more sustainable fashion industry.

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Bali has a rich artisanal history which plays an active part in the island’s production of fashion items from jewellery, to fabrics and leather to weaving. Balinese clothing manufacturers, whether owned by foreign designers or local tend to be small, family-owned cooperatives that set their own labour and cost standards, ensuring fair-trade practices while maintaining quality craftsmanship.

This connection to the production process and the hand-made nature of the majority of Bali’s fashion is unique and something other fashion hubs have been reconfiguring into their supply chains. In addition to this, its value is that it provides a direct connection for the buyer between the item they are buying and the impact on the local community.

Seasonless collections have also become a key part of the Slow Fashion mantra in response to Fast Fashion rapid turnaround of collections. To maximize sales, fashion marketing departments have boasted up to 8 seasons or more, with a series of vague names like the resort, cruise, first summer, high summer and pre-fall collections. Designers have struggled to keep up, overworked and pushed to prioritize quantity over design quality.

In response, consumers have shifted their focus on season-less collections, a concept that relies on two premises. The first is that clothing quality is high, and styles have a timeless element, decreasing the need to discard once the season is ‘over’. The second factor is that the world is getting smaller, we travel more and want every seasonal option available year-round.

Bali thrives in a summery mono-climate, and local designers have synchronized with this resort-style weather, offering year-round clothing collections for the tropics.

Lastly, Bali has attracted creatives from all over the world, and in particular the kind of creative that values quality of life, and who aren’t afraid to forge their own path. Entrepreneurial spirit reigns in Bali, and European, Australian, Russian and US designers co-mingle, inspiring each other and bringing influences from their home countries. This emphasis on innovation and creative pollination is unique and the opposite to the quick turn around and trend following of the wider industry.

While the international fashion scene continues to shift, Bali’s fashion scene has therefore been at the forefront of a movement long before it became ‘fashion’. Now with the advance of online platforms, they are easier to reach than ever. It will be exciting to watch Bali continue to foster and grow on its strengths and show the rest of the world what Slow Fashion really means.

Provided by Black Book Fashion, a curated fashion platform for the best independent designers in shopping destinations around the world.

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