Slow Fashion – is France Joining the Revolution?


According to the French national fashion institute the IFM (Institut Français de la Mode), general consumption patterns in France are having an important impact on the fashion world

And, in the fashion world, whatever happens in France won’t be long replicating itself around the world. At the recent annual conference of the IFM, the new consumption habits and patterns of the French featured large in discussions

We are, apparently, heading slowly but surely towards a “less but better” type of consumption, according to Gildas Minvielle, head of the economic observatory of the IFM. Does this mean that “slow fashion” has arrived? According to Evelyne Chaballier of the IFM, this Slow Fashion has already arrived in French clothes outlets, where, she says, you can already see shopping behaviour that is more reasoned and more rational – with less emphasis on “pleasure”.

40% of all clothing/fashion purchases in France are now made during sales or promotions. According to a recent survey by the IFM, 33% of consumers say that they have bought “less articles of clothing that last longer.” Following the same line of thinking, practical alternatives such as bartering or buying second-hand are becoming more commonplace:

According to a recent poll by Eco TLC for the IFM, 50% of women and 35% of men said that they have bought second-hand clothes, mostly at stalls and sometimes on the internet.

Recycling is now firmly installed as part of the fashion world. Second-hand shops are renewing their stock and range in their shop windows on a constant basis – so much so that the second-hand circuit operates sometimes in direct competition to the main-street boutiques, depending on the quality and price of what’s on offer.

Home-made clothes are also making a major comeback in France, with 11% of female consumers saying that they indulge in the practice. Another minor but noteworthy indicator of this tendency is the fact that the sewing machine is making a comeback in the French household, as Hélène Fourneau of the IFM indicated during the seminar of December 5th last.

Despite the rise of such practices, however, recycling of clothes is still not a very well-developed phenomenon in France. In fact, the French recycle their clothes four times less than in Germany (2.3kg of clothing collected per person as against 8kg in Germany).

“As wardrobes become full, distributors should put in place a system of recuperation of clothing with incentive measure, like coupons, for example…” suggests Evelyne Chaballier of the IFM.

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