Dressing is an agricultural act

Slow Clothing movement brings meaning, value and joy to every day


Life & Style
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A new slow clothing movement is encouraging people to focus on quality, local, and natural fibres.

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Jane Milburn visiting Tarndie Heritage Farm, Colac, Vic, wearing upcycled wool.

Jane Milburn visiting Tarndie Heritage Farm, Colac, Vic, wearing upcycled wool.

Following the lead of the slow food movement, author Jane Milburn has written the book Slow Clothing to encourage people to take a thoughtful approach to what they wear and focus on quality, local, and natural fibres as a counter to the social and environmental issues associated with fast fashion.

As an agricultural scientist and social entrepreneur, Jane’s philosophy builds on her earlier work experience and five years of research into sustainable clothing culture.

Seeing a need to rethink clothing culture, Jane said clothing should be seen as more than fashion, but rather integral to our health and wellbeing.

“That means we need a more holistic approach to the way we think about, choose and care for what we wear, rather than just focusing on the latest fashion, colour, style or hemline,” she said.

“I was troubled to learn synthetic fibres, that are shedding microplastic particles, now dominate the apparel market.

“We need to appreciate that natural fibres, like cotton and wool, come from agriculture.

“That makes dressing an agricultural act unless we like wearing plastic, which I personally don’t.”

"Our clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They protect and warm our bodies, and influence the way we feel and present to the world." - Jane Milburn.

"Our clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They protect and warm our bodies, and influence the way we feel and present to the world." - Jane Milburn.

Derived from petroleum and therefor being a plastic product, Jane said synthetic materials now make up over two thirds of the clothing market, as opposed to 10 years ago when it only held a 50 per cent market share.

“To me it's a natural follow on from our own desire to eat and drink healthily, that we need to have healthy clothing, and a healthy clothing strategy,” Jane said.

Jane’s book highlights 10 actions and beliefs that are necessary to having a healthy clothing strategy. 

Think before you buy; choose and cherish natural fibres; buy quality because if you buy something well, you only need to buy it once; support local; have few things, but ones that work well for you; care for what you’ve got; make your own; adapt clothing to make it better for you; and salvage something old.

Most of all though, the slow clothing movement boils down to the the philosophy that it’s a way of thinking about, choosing and wearing clothes to ensure they bring meaning, value and joy to every day.

The story Dressing is an agricultural act first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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