Slow Fashion in Aspen


by Jordan Curet

Locals and tourists in Aspen love the outdoors.  Many of us also love fashion.

We want our clothing to be high tech – the lightest weights, the most features, the newest innovations. We also take our environmental causes very seriously, as protecting the playgrounds where we recreate is high on our priority list.

One topic that seems to have faded into the background in Aspen, is the awareness of all the fabrics that comprise our fashionable and super-fancy technical outerwear.

From eco-friendly processes and treatments, to the true lifespan of apparel, there are several angles that deserve deeper consideration before purchase. Paying attention to the supply chain far past the end of life of these products, we should contemplate why we make purchases, where they come from and how we impact our fellow humans.

We may want the newest designs right now, but what is that costing us in the long run?

We know we don’t want to be green washed, but there is something to be said for developing clothing with an ethical and emotional connection.

The phrase “mindful consumption” has become prevalent throughout all retail industries. And sometimes in Aspen, we think maybe this doesn’t apply to us. Are we buying smart? Where are materials being sourced, how and where are they being produced, and by whom, how long will the product last you, and where will it go after you are done wearing it?

In the mountains, we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that cheaper doesn’t mean better, we still need our waterproof apparel to actually repel water, and our insulation to keep us cozy.

Quality can determine our ability to perform our best when everything depends on it. But when was the last time you considered what DWR treatment does to the environment? Or if you wear that jacket for only one season, to get the newer color the following year, does that DWR treatment recycle, are you donating it to a second user, or how long will it sit in the landfill until, if ever, it biodegrades?

The consumer should be asking the questions, but more than that, brands should focusing on making responsibly and ethically made apparel and gear that lasts forever, and they should be celebrating that.

The outdoors are always inspirational, so brands couch their identity in stunning landscape imagery. While factories aren’t sexy, if the story is told well, brands could grow their communities around their sustainable processes.

Look at Simms Wadermakers, it was a visually appealing edit that showed that their waders are made by hand, in the US, and that struck a chord with consumers.

Surf legend, Kelly Slater’s Outerknown is built on changing the dialogue around sustainability- and they say, correctly, that ‘it’s not okay not to know where your apparel comes from.  This is the type of story we should be telling, for all gear and apparel.

Like the push toward slow food, our outdoor gear should be defined as good quality, clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers.

We pay a lot for our technical clothing, would you pay an extra $50 if it meant fabrics were derived from eco-friendly resources and you knew the folks who were making them were treated well instead of poorly?

These are just a few of the questions that need to reverberate to every corner of the industry to start the dialogue, but it has to start somewhere. There is momentum at some corners, but not all.  Let’ lead this revolution and insist on it.

It’s time for everyone that plays in the outdoors to take a stand on what the wear so that we can continue to have somewhere to play.

We hope you will stand with us.