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Is the time right for Slow Fashion?

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"If we can radically reduce our clothing purchases, there will be no reason to buy cheaply made, imported, sweatshop clothing from Wal-Mart," she wrote. "We will be able to afford to purchase high- quality, environmentally sound clothing."

Astyk wasn't calling for anything radically new, but rather for a rebalancing of the old and new toward time-honored stitch-and-mend ways as opposed to a buy-and-throw-away ethic.

In fact, Astyk does knit socks for her family and is teaching her young sons basic sewing skills, but she admits that, up until now, this do-it-yourself approach has been a tough sell.

One intermediate step is to recycle clothing. "The older the better" is the motto at the Bobbin Sew Bar in Burlington, Vt., where you can buy recycled clothes stitched into new ones at reasonable prices, or rework them yourself on one of their vintage sewing machines, which can be rented for $8.50 an hour.

Another approach is taken by designer Miranda Caroligne, who specializes in "turning garbage into high fashion," as she puts it. She scavenges discarded fabric from clothing factories in the San Francisco Bay Area and transforms them into colorful outfits.

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