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Episode 198: How To Talk About Slow Fashion

How do we get people to join our community and work for change alongside us? By talking about slow fashion, fast fashion, and overconsumption! But starting these conversations can be intimidating.  And frustrating to continue! Have YOU ever tried to change minds in the comment section of a social media post?!  Fortunately Amanda has learned a lot about how to have productive conversations about slow fashion over the last four years, mostly by trial and error.  In this episode she shares what she has learned.  

This episode answers the following questions (and more):

  • Why is it important to talk about fast fashion/slow fashion with the people in your life?
  • Who should care about fast fashion/slow fashion?
  • How do I start these conversations without being a total party pooper?
  • How do I meet people where they are (and avoid using shaming or blaming language)?
  • How do I deal with common responses like “talking about fast fashion is classist” or “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism?”
  • What can I learn by sharing my knowledges and experience with others?

Episode 200 is coming soon! April 18th at 8pm Eastern.

Behind the Seams

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Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that is going to say “talk” and “conversation” like 1000 times in this episode.


I’m your host Amanda and this is episode 198!

This week we are going to talk all about…how to talk to other people about slow fashion. 

I did a webinar about this a few weeks ago, and I realized that this should be a full episode topic because there is a lot to discuss! Fortunately over the last almost four years of making Clotheshorse I have learned A LOT about how to talk about fast fashion, fast everything, slow fashion, overconsumption, all of the things…and I have learned these things by doing them wrong, making adjustments, trying new things, and watching others have these conversations. I’ve also learned a lot by observing other people in my life and how they connect with people.  I’ve learned by reading books.


I’ve also been frustrated and angry. Sad. Exhausted. 

But also: excited. Optimistic.  I’ve met amazing people. I’ve seen real change happen. 


So I’m excited to share what I’ve learned through all of my attempts at having conversations over the last few years.   And if you have stories you want to share about your successes and mishaps in talking about slow fashion with others, send them my way! I would love to share them with the rest of our community.

Before we get into HOW to talk to others about slow fashion/slow everything, we have to explore WHY we should talk about slow fashion/slow everything.


And trust me, this is a question I get quite often, as someone who has been talking about this stuff for hundreds and hundreds of hours over the past few years.


It’s never “just” clothes or shopping in this real life version of Mall Madness that we’re all playing.


We are in the midst of an environmental and human rights disaster that would only get worse if we ignore it.


The fashion and retail industry intersects with so many important issues:


  • environmental and social justice
  • climate change
  • the global plastic pollution crisis (remember, 65% of clothes made and sold right now are made of synthetic fibers aka plastic)
  • workers rights
  • income inequality
  • water consumption and pollution
  • and so much more!


And yeah, this is A LOT to hear, digest, and share with others.  It would be way easier to say “oh, well there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism so I’m gonna go ahead and just keep doing what i’m doing.”


Or “my impact will never be as huge as Amazon.”


Or “sorry, don’t put the responsibility on individuals.”


Or we could just pretend we don’t know what’s happening and just carry on as normal.


But when we ignore it, things get worse. We can’t let big business or the fashion industry operate on the honor system—without our involvement—because it just doesn’t work. That’s how you get to where we are now.


In fact, when we don’t talk about these kinds of things, here’s what happens:


  • Brands continue to sell us low quality, poorly fitting items that don’t last very long.
  • Brands get away with stealing art and designs from small brands and makers.
  • Companies continue to underpay and overwork everyone involved in developing, making, selling, and shipping the things we buy.
  • The industry continues to waste water and natural resources, while churning out 45 billion garments every year that no one will ever buy.
  • The Global South continues to deal with the repercussions of all of the low quality stuff that we barely wore or used. This is waste colonialism.


And this is just the beginning of the list!


Now, when I ask people why they aren’t having these conversations (or at least, why they are super nervous to have them), here are the most common responses I hear:

  • I don’t know enough: I’m worried about saying the wrong thing, misstating a fact, or just generally messing it up
  • I don’t want to frighten people or be a party pooper.
  • I don’t know how to start the conversation.
  • I don’t think I can make a difference because I’m just one person and I feel overwhelmed.
  • I don’t want to start an argument or attract trolls.
  • I tried before and I just ended up frustrated or disappointed. Either people didn’t care at all or they got angry/accused me of being _____

Okay, well who should care about this stuff? Who should we talk to about this?

Here’s a brief list of people who  should care about slow fashion (and fast fashion) in no particular order:

  • People who work in retail, shipping, or a warehouse
  • People who buy clothes
  • People who wear clothes
  • People who buy and use things, from shoes to electronics to furniture to mattresses to gardening gloves to insta pots to well, everything and anything.
  • People who care about people.
  • People who love animals
  • People who love plants
  • People who love swimming or drinking water.
  • Oh yeah, people who eat food and drink water or other liquids that contain water in one way or another.
  • People who live on planet earth

We tend to think that the impact of overconsumption is someone else’s problem, that it’s happening far away from here.

Even if you don’t work in a factory, warehouse, or store, fast fashion is having a negative impact on you.

Because no matter where you live on the planet, you ARE experiencing the environmental impact of the production and disposal of fast fashion (and all the other stuff we overconsume).


So yeah, in summary…everyone should know about this stuff and we should talk to anyone we can about it.


That’s the thing about talking about this kinda stuff…it’s kinda magical


When you talk to the people in your life about it, they start talking to other people they know.


And those people talk to the people they know. And it spreads and spreads.


When a lot of people are talking about it, major change starts to happen, via both governmental policy and the rise of new social trends involving a shift in our consumption habits.


I have seen so many bad social trends come and (hopefully) go: the rise of fast fashion/fast everything, Amazon, the gig economy, too many tote bags and reusable water bottles, and so much more during my adult life. 


All of these things grew because as a social trend, people were buying into them.


Amazon became what it is because everyone started buying tons of stuff from them all the time. Walmart killed local businesses in small towns because people preferred the lower prices and convenience of Walmart.  Fast fashion became the predominant business model for everything because customers loved it.


I get why people would shift to Amazon, Walmart, fast fashion, etc, because most of us don’t have the privilege of time and money, right?  I have done it myself. The systems we live within are inherently unjust and exploitative. We’re just trying to survive.


These are examples of what happens when many individuals start doing the same thing at the same time. Maybe we didn’t collectively decide–like we didn’t have a big meeting where we said “okay, now we only buy things from Amazon”–but nonetheless, we all took the same action at the same time and the impact was huge.


Meanwhile, I’m also seeing once niche ideas and actions becoming more mainstream. I  can think of so many examples just from the last few years: The “mainstream-ification” of secondhand shopping. People are seeing that the value of clothing extends much longer.  Or how about Buy Nothing groups, creative reuse centers, community mending groups! Or even the way the use of harmful, ableist language is becoming more and more socially unacceptable. That’s because people said something about it, others heard it, told others, and it spread and spread. Good things are happening all around us!


The point is, change happens when we all do it together. When we welcome more people to our community, we form a movement…which to be honest, I think we are experiencing right now! Yes, slow fashion and anti-consumerism is a MOVEMENT! And I do see the changes happening…let’s keep it going!

Let’s get the conversation started with some general best practices:

  • Don’t be afraid to be repetitive, because humans generally need to hear things a few times before it really sinks in.
  • Show others how you are making changes in your own consumption habits and how this is impacting your life.
  • Explain WHY you care! Listen and ask questions, too.  We aren’t know-it-alls. We don’t claim to have all of the answers.
  • Don’t worry about getting it wrong or using the “wrong” vocabulary. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!
  • Share your own personal stories. This helps others to see the true impact of fast fashion. It also helps them understand how it impacts them. Our personal stories unlock doors and open ears.


  • Studies have shown that when we are telling a story, our brain waves start to synchronize with the listeners. And that’s how true connections are built.
  • Our experiences and stories build trust, evoke emotion, and get change started!

Okay, I think now is a good time to talk about the excuse and pushback to conversations like this:

  • It’s classist to talk about fast fashion.
  • It’s fatphobic to talk about fast fashion.
  • It’s ableist to talk about fast fashion.
  • There is no ethical consumption under capitalism

  • It’s not my responsibility, it’s Amazon, etc responsibility 
  • We are all doomed anyway…
  • What about…

The secret to dealing with these excuses/comebacks is understanding where they originate…


  • In the first year or so of Clotheshorse, every time I posted anything about the fast fashion business model, like clockwork, someone would show up in the comment section with one of these excuses. And it would kinda flummox me, because I didn’t know how to respond to these people (and honestly, no response ever “fixed” the situation). 


  • What I realized over time is that these conversations are tough, shocking, and downright depressing.  All of us handle tough information in different ways: abject panic, depression, ignoring it, or anger.


  • Furthermore, when I am talking about these things, I am asking people to change…and change is scary!


So how do we deal with these excuses?


  • We are not here to fight one another.  Sometimes it’s just not the right moment for the conversation because the person isn’t ready.  It may not feel like it, but I promise you have already planted a seed in that person’s mind.
  • Remember that this person is already dealing with a lot of frustration and pain (hi, normal life in 2024).  Rather than doubling down on being “right,” just be kind and welcoming.
  • Share knowledge and sources if it seems like the person is open to it. Repetition works, and sometimes a few articles, videos, podcasts, etc will do the trick.

So how do we get these conversations started in a way that will be the most productive?


First things first: what not to do…


Start with “othering” or blame-y language.

  • “People like you…”
  • “It’s your fault…”
  • “If you cared about anyone but yourself…”
  • “It’s selfish of you.”


Use language that sounds like an ultimatum/condemnation.

  • “If you’re not doing xyz, then you’re a bad person.”
  • “If you’re buying fast fashion, I don’t want to talk to you.”
  • “Unfollow me if you shop from Shein.”
  • “We’re not friends if you’re not posting about this.”

Here’s the thing: if you think I don’t feel angry, frustrated, and even exhausted by all of this sometimes, well, of course I do! And those are the moments when I step away from the keyboard, put away my phone, and do something to care for myself and rest  Because rage might bring a few people into the fold, but very few.  

My Gam Sandy always said to me,  “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”


Shame is never the way forward.  In fact, it just leads to more of the mental acrobatics that I was talking about earlier, where excuses are used as a defense/coping mechanism


Instead we want to meet people where they are.


Recognize the privileges of time, money, size, and access that currently make slow fashion out of reach for many.  When you realize that, it’s a lot easier to be kind, welcoming, and NON-JUDGEMENTAL about choices others are making.


We have to cheer on changes others are making, no matter how small. It’s progress, not perfection. And support and encouragement is so motivating!


 The reality is that being a jerk to other people about their choices is never going to get results. Opt for sharing knowledge over criticism. Remember, a lot of people think that sustainability and slow fashion is elitist and judgey.  Let’s prove them wrong!


So how do we get these conversations started in a healthy, productive way?


Look for moments to get the conversation started. Is someone talking about shopping, clothing, prices, fit, even a recent trip to Target?  This is a great time to explain why they are frustrated!


Nothing fits? That’s because everyone has adopted the fast fashion model and they aren’t taking time to get fit right.

Clothes fall apart? That’s because brands are cutting corners to make the math, MATH.

No one working at Target? Another way the industry prioritizes profits over people by cutting staff and wages.

Remember that is no single right way to live the slow fashion way.  There are many different ways to get involved/make personal changes. Working these into conversation can make the world of slow fashion less intimidating! 

  • VOTE! And call your representatives to tell them that you want more regulation of the fashion/retail industry.
  • Shop secondhand as often as possible (it doesn’t have to be always, every time).
  • BUY LESS STUFF! And change up your shopping habits.
  • Mending and laundry–>this can be a great project to do together.


Reinforcing that it is progress, not perfection!

Which brings me to my final set of best practices:


  • Keep it positive and fun!  A lot of people think that people who care about the planet and social justice have lives of misery and deprivation.  Slow fashion is actually super fun and creative!
  • Avoid bombarding with facts and really “big” information.  I take baby steps with people because if I start with the really heavy stuff, they are more likely to walk away.
  • Make it personal. People are kinda selfish…or at least, these problems seem far away and unreal to them. Show them how it affects THEM!
  • Accept that your impact might not be obvious at the end of a conversation.  Even if people seem kinda “meh” in response to what you said, I promise that you planted the seed of change. 
  • And lastly, let yourself learn from others while you are having these conversations.


Want to Support Amanda's Work on Clotheshorse?

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.