The fast fashion versus slow fashion debate has been raging on for decades and is as relevant now as ever, especially to the jewellery industry.

Shannon Mugford, content and SEO executive for Joshua James Jewellery, talks both sides of the debate and tells Professional Jeweller where the retailer fits into the mix.

Since the late 1980s, when the anti-fur movement first appeared, the fashion industry has been manipulating its practises to become more sustainable.


When democratisation hit in the 1990s, the sector especially prioritised its role in the movement, establishing how their brands kept in line with consumer awareness alongside the accessibility of fashion at this time.

While this somewhat resulted in positive publicity, the demand for fashion, even cheap fashion, became more explicit, leaving major fashion houses with no choice but to continue producing high volumes rapidly, thus taking a step back in their ethical efforts.

Fast fashion versus slow fashion is a debate that we still see today. While the importance of ethical manufacturing and distribution is globally communicated, brands cannot afford to sabotage their quick turnovers in stock.

Fast fashion is the term given to inexpensive clothing production for mass-market retailers to comply with the latest trends.

Slow fashion, on the other hand, is the ‘slow movement’ that challenges fast fashion by manufacturing clothing in favour of the community, the environment and animals, whether that be through producing garments using recycled materials or higher quality pieces that offer longevity over trend.

Today, slow fashion is deemed beneficial for brands as they see an influx in revenue and a polished reputation.

This also coincides with the jewellery industry: with designers and manufacturers advocating a certain quality level that surpasses costume jewellery.

Favourable for consumers too, this appeals to those who look to invest in longer-lasting pieces to compliment their staple wardrobe, as opposed to accessorising continuous new outfits which in turn, balances out costs long-term.

Here at Joshua James, we pride ourselves on our ‘slow jewellery’ efforts.

By stocking brands that produce durable jewellery with timeless designs to partnering with Trees for The Future who have allowed us to contribute to tackling the climate crisis, we are continuously exploring ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Through this, we’re saving our business costs, but not at the expense of our planet.

We’ve seen an extreme reduction of product returns and are often given recognition for our climate change mitigation contributions. Consequently, we have attained new levels of respect from our customers, encouraging them to return to us.

If a loyal customer database can’t sway a business to reconsider their operations in order to adhere to the slow movement, then earning a new role in the industry against their competitors should.

By offering incomparable excellence in your products’ quality, your business could be the determining factor for the consumer.

In most cases, sustainable products are unique in their endurance and design, giving your brand the advantage of being the only source.

Putting it simply, if a jewellery brand engages in ‘slow jewellery’, it has less impact on society and the planet while still growing its reputation and community.

Slow fashion is continuously growing. With major labels beginning to offer ethical product ranges and reconsider their packaging, and younger generations putting more focus on their personal carbon footprint, it’ll soon become a duty for all brands to reassess their roles in the industry and in society if they want to continue operating with confidence.

Written by Shannon Mugford, SEO and content executive