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Slowness as deepness: The Slow Movement

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

“Slowness is the forgotten dimension to time. Unlike chronological time, it is non-linear, time here and now, time that works for you, an extraordinary time. So why be fast when you can be slow? Slowness is also about balance, so if you must hurry, then hurry slowly.” — Gert Berthelsen

In my personal life, I’ve been advised plenty of times to slow down, or take a breath. When our heads (or your to do list) are constantly turning with new thoughts, we’re often recommended to take a moment of stillness; to take care of ourselves by slowing down or taking a break from our current state of mind.

If we as individuals are experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed by our rushed lives, is it not translated into our relationships and networks as well? As a community, work team, or neighborhood, are we not collective sharing this strain?

As a rejection to this ‘sinking’ society, the collective Slow Movement has taken flight. This cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace began in 1986, when there was a protest against opening up a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, Rome. Carlo Petrini created the Slow Food Movement as a ripple effect after the protest. The core motivation of the movement was to protect the traditional foods and agricultural biodiversity of the local regions, and not support mass produced fast food chains as the convenient way out.

Shortly after the traction of the Slow Food movement picked up, other subcultural expressions of slowness followed. The Slow Cities for Cittaslow organization also started in Italy, incentivizing tourism industries to offer good living for local citizens while giving tourists an authentic visitor’s experience. The slow movement has expanded into Slow Art, Slow Beer, Slow Business and, of course, Slow Fashion.

The founder of the World Institute of Slowness, Gert Berthelsen presented the vision in 1999 for an entire “Slow Planet,” and a need to teach the world the way of slowness. The word SLOW has become a symbol for not just the pace, but a lifestyle design as the acronym: Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Whole. If slowness is a guideline to our lifestyle, this will affect our consumer behavior and interconnectedness. As obvious as it may sounds, we still rush past each other daily, barely recognizing our neighbors or acknowledging the beautiful blossoming trees.


slow philosophy has been a cultural foundation to my M.A. Design for Sustainability project of reducing post-consumer fashion waste. As Kate Fletcher coined it, Slow Fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It is about creating and experiencing fashion consciously, and with integrity. It connects social and environmental awareness and responsibility with the pleasure of wearing beautiful, well-made, and lasting clothing.

The Slow Fashion movement is a collective action to buy less garments at higher quality, made from more sustainable processes, while also supporting local makers and the art of clothes. As the popularity and support of this movement is growing, the consumer demand for more sustainable or ethical fashion standards is increasing. Based on a recent report, The State of Fashion 2019: A year of awakening published by BOF and McKinsey & Company, younger shoppers have increasingly turned to consigned goods and brands that claim sustainability as a value.

While slowing down may still sound like an unproductive approach to some people, I believe a pace that offers the opportunity to reflect, create, and interact can help new potentials arise. New business models of shared economy or localized culture are sprouting, while making the time to listen to the consumers and design products and services that truly satisfies the needs while offering long-term benefits to the whole ecosystem.

Sustainability Slow Fashion Slow Movement Fast Fashion


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