Slow fashion with Jenna Flood

What is Slow Fashion? Why should you care? How can you get started? Slow Fashion stylist, Jenna Flood AKA the Ironic Minimalist answers all these questions and more in this interview.

Whether it be pre-loved, vintage or ethical fashion, Jenna aims to educate people on the issues that surround Fast Fashion and offer alternative ways of consuming. 

The Thrifty Philanthropist: Tell us a little about yourself. What does a typical day look like for you?

Jenna Flood: On an average workday, I wake up, do the usual shower, breakfast, getting ready regime. And then I usually walk to work as I am lucky enough to live around a 20-minute walk from the Sydney Road location of consignment style store, Mutual Muse.

My day is filled with buying items for the store (we offer our customers a store credit or cash option when they bring in items to sell with us), selling ‘new to them’ garments and general admin. It’s cheesy, but I absolutely love my job. It aligns so well with my values and I am surrounded by clothing saved from a fate in landfill! I also love that I can chat with people about sustainable fashion and the changes they are making in their Slow Fashion journey.

Once finished for the day, I head home to feed my fur baby, Captain Cuddles. Sometimes I stop at a few op shops! And after dinner, I may work on some admin for my styling business, Ironic Minimalist. Or I may just chill out with a TV series or a book.

A pink fluroescent sign says SHOP SECOND HAND with three love hearts underneath
The sign at the Mutual Muse store in Brunswick

TTP: How do you define slow fashion?

JF: To me, Slow Fashion encompasses many different types of ‘ethical fashion’ habits. Buying pre-loved, buying/supporting designers using ethical manufacturing, swapping, renting, low buy months, buy nothing new months… All of these are ways of practising Slow Fashion. I feel the term ‘Slow Fashion’ is a huge umbrella that encases all these lifestyle habits.

As a Stylist in the Slow Fashion area, I sometimes take on clients to help them start to shift their views and buying habits into more ethical ones. I also partner with councils and businesses to hold workshops or talks to educate people on the issue that surround fast fashion. I also style for photo shoots where I use pre-loved, vintage and/or garments from ethical fashion brands. 

TTP: How did slow fashion become an issue so close to your heart?

JF: It really happened by chance. I somehow discovered minimalism and the theory of living with less. Once I had watched The Minimalist’s documentary “Minimalism”, it all sort of clicked with me. I then started to research topics that were similar: Plastic Free, Zero Waste, Veganism and Ethical Fashion. I feel like all these topics complement each other and when I started to make these changes (i.e. using less plastic, decluttering) it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Slow Fashion became particularly close to my heart as I really loved creating looks with clothing. I worked in retail and had just started a course to learn how to become a Stylist. Learning about the dark side of the fashion industry really shook me. As I dug deeper I knew that I couldn’t support an industry that mistreated people and the Earth so terribly. So I decided to start sharing what I had learnt and then managed to tap into the niche of ‘Eco Styling’ as a stylist!

A woman wears a long dark jacket, blue jeans, a black turtle neck and has a black bag over her shoulder.
Jenna Flood

TTP: In what ways do you believe that adopting slow fashion has a positive impact on the world?

JF: Some people will say that caring about what we buy fashion-wise doesn’t make an impact, but it does! Our purchasing habits and what we decide to buy really count in the grand scheme of things. If you are buying $2 tee from a chain store, not only are you asking for more water to be used to grow the cotton, you are saying that yes it’s okay to pay a garment worker a poor wage with no benefits and huge overtimes in horrible conditions. You are saying yes to using more harmful dyes, more land to grow the fibre, more clothing to go to landfill after just a few wears…. To me, it doesn’t make sense to buy anything this way. 

When we buy pre-loved we don’t ask for more of these precious resources to be used. When we buy from an ethical brand, they are considerate of their impact. Their garment workers are paid a living wage and work in better conditions. Fabrics are organic or dead stock. Garments can be made to order and we wear and care for them longer because we took the time to choose just what we needed.

TTP: What seems to be the biggest challenge for people changing their fashion habits and what’s your advice to overcome it?  

JF: I see a lot of people unwilling to make a change with their fashion habits because they are nervous that it will cost too much or that they will no longer be ‘on trend’. Basically, they are scared to divert for their current lifestyle at the risk of standing out. I get it! We don’t want to be the person asking their sales assistant 20 questions and getting weird looks from the other customers.

But if you think back to when you started to use a reusable coffee cup (if you haven’t, please do!) at first you were nervous the barista would say no and you would get weird looks. But then it was all fine, life went on as normal. Now you always have a reusable mug on you, ready to save the Earth from those nasty single-use coffee cups!

Look at changing your fashion habits just as you changed your habits with the reusable cup. Take it slow, research and start asking questions. See the good in what you are doing. Surround yourself with people who understand what you are trying to achieve and just give it a go. Don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up and have to buy something from a chain store – you are still learning!

Also, consider buying less. We do not need all the items of clothing that we own. Instead, can you rent or borrow a dress for that fancy event? Rethink your ownership of things – is it a need, or just a want?

Or just message me, I will champion your change!

A woman sits on a stool and there is a rack of clothing behind her.
Jenna Flood

TTP: What projects do you have coming up?

JF: I have so many things happening in the new year! I will be chatting all things Slow Fashion as part of Wyndham City Council’s Green Living Series in February. I’ll be hosting a little styling workshop where I can show you some nifty tips and tricks for op shopping, how to shop more sustainably and how to create a capsule wardrobe.

Plans for an op shop tour are also in the works! Along with many more exciting things. If you want to know more, make sure you are following me over on my insta, Ironic Minimalist.

TTP: This is a website for thrifty philanthropists. Often, ethical brands come with a higher price tag. What is your advice for someone wanting to do the right thing but is short on cash?

JF: I have a few tips:
1. Purchase ethical brands when on sale. Not all ethical brands do go on sale, but when they do it is a great way to support them.

2. Buy from a consignment store – eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Facebook groups. It takes more searching, but you can strike gold. 

3. Borrow or rent and item. There is nothing worse than spending your hard-earned cash on something that just doesn’t fit you or your style. So see if a friend or a rental service has that dress you are lusting after.

4. Change your habits so you aren’t lusting over trends all the time. This means you won’t be spending all your money trying to keep up with the style crowd. Buy less and treasure what you already own.

5. Seek out some cheaper ethical brands. Dorsu and Boody are some great examples of basics that are on the cheaper end of the Ethical Fashion scale.

It’s also important to recognise why ethical brands ARE more expensive. They pay their workers fairly and sometimes manufacture in countries like Australia where the pay rate is higher. They use certified organic fabrics and plant-based dyes. All these costs add up. Lois Hazel has demonstrated the cost break down of one of her garments. I feel that this explains it perfectly. We need to understand why Ethical Fashion is so expensive compared to Fast Fashion, and then we need to learn that the two cannot be compared.

Also, you don’t need to own a branded garment to be ethical! Most of the time people don’t even know where or who the item is from until you tell them!

A woman wearing sunglasses is standing outdoors holding up a black dress.
Jenna is an Ambassador for
The Clothing Exchange

TTP: Could you recommend some resources for readers on where to go for more information?

JF: There are SO MANY great resources for Slow Fashion out there. I shall list a few for you here:

Ethical Made Easy
The Green Hub
Fashion Revolution
Good On You

Here is a list of some great documentaries to watch.

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