As humans’ time on earth moves forward, the pace of life accelerates. It is hard to pinpoint the shift when things got so fast, but the industrial revolutions might have had something to do with it. With every wave of new technology, human beings have been pushed to move faster than before, to fill our lives with more and more things until we find ourselves in an era obsessed by speed. Carl Honore, author of ‘In praise of slowness’ writes “when people moan, “Oh, I’m so busy, I’m run off my feet, my life is a blur, I haven’t got time for anything,” what they often mean is, “Look at me: I am hugely important, exciting and energetic.” Speed is status - it equates to efficiency, efficiency to money and money is what makes our industrialised world tick.
But, in early 2020, the entire world was forced to make an emergency stop due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Everything shut down, work places closed, socialising was put on hold. We have all had to be much slower in order to lessen the blow of the pandemic and protect each other. Stopping has been difficult for some and impossible for others, but whilst a world on total lockdown is not sustainable, many are hoping that this slower pace of life can continue in the future. Why? Because being slow is nice. Slowness has enormous benefits - put simply, many things are very pleasant when done slower; eating, drinking, writing, reading, travelling, making decisions, driving a car, having sex - the list goes on. I recently listened to an interview with haematologist Brian Durie who touched on global ‘blue zones’ - places in the world where a high proportion of the population live to be over 100. In particular, he mentioned Icaria, Greece where there are ‘no clocks on the island so they’re not concerned about time…’ Perhaps, he suggested, this lack of interest in speed contributes to a longer, healthier life.
Before the pandemic, in retaliation to fast living, many slow movements had already begun to spring up over the last few decades. The Slow Food movement encourages local food and traditional cooking, the Slow Travel movement places importance on sustainable transport and attention to culture and heritage, the Slow Money movement asks for alternative ways that money can be invested in small-time producers and cottage industries. With Covid-19 shifting focus from materialism, it is seems many of these Slow Movements had the right idea for moving forward in a post-pandemic world. And with many premises remaining closed and manufacturing put on hold, it might also be a time to rethink the way that we buy and swell the support for the Slow Fashion movement, a concept which we at Meta studio support wholeheartedly.
Slow Fashion advocates responsibly made clothing and fashion objects, with respect given to the planet and the people who make them. Slowing down fashion, to us, is immensely important for the health of the environment and we also feel that it is so much more pleasurable to buy into. Whereas fast fashion can be reactionary, picking up things because they are made so available to us, perhaps because we are bored or in a bad mood or need some kind of instant gratification to make us feel better about ourselves places less value on each item that we buy. Often, these things do not last a long time, or we are unsatisfied by our choice as it was made so quickly.
Fashion (or indeed every other purchase that we make) done the slow way - that is, thinking about a purchase for a while then buying directly from the people or person who made it is much better for our mood. It gives a deeper sense of connection, support and reward. And though slow fashion is perceived as being more expensive, in the long run, if we buy better quality and think about something before we buy it, our purchase is more likely to last longer, so we can enjoy it for longer.
It is our hope that the obsession with speed falls by the wayside as many are beginning to understand that it is slowness that is in fact the luxury, that being quick means missing out on the small, nice things in life. Though the prospect of a new, slower normal might seem as if we will have to do less, it also offers us the prospect that these experiences might be richer in the long run.