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Book Review: Naked Fashion
Written by Magaly Fuentes-Sagan - Thursday, 19 April 2012
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The title of the book Naked Fashion, written by Safia Minney and published by New Internationalist, fundamentally reveals a chief purpose of its text and illustrations: to express the bare truths of the fashion industry and motivate the world to move forward with a purpose, determined to make things better.

 

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 Photo credit - Miki Alcalde

 

Safia has spent over 20 years working in various areas of the fashion industry to illustrate how fashion can be used to safeguard rather than exploit people and the planet. From her work as founder of the NGO Global Village to her admirable initiatives as CEO and founder of sustainable fashion label People Tree, Safia truly is tireless in her efforts to show the world that a shift in thinking and methods used in fashion can better the world.

 

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Emma Watson learns how to handweave fabric for one of her designs at Swallows, one of the People Tree's fair trade partners. Photo credit - Miki Alcalde

 

Naked Fashion is a compilation of ethical fashion brain food collected from journalists, photographers, models, actors, illustrators, stylists, designers, producers, buyers and more, who are all in some form motivated to make a change and happy to share details of their efforts and projects. 

Readers are first taken through real-life, gut wrenching examples of conditions being endured by garment factory workers in Bangladesh.  There is an excerpt from Chapter 1, originally from an article written by Liz Jones, Fashion Editor at Large of the Daily Mail, which I keep going over in my head.  Jones is speaking to a 25 year old female garment worker named Sharti who is part of a group who could no longer deal with the deplorable conditions and went on strike.  She meets Sharti at the office of the National Garment Worker’s Federation and in coversing with Sharti, Jones asks her if she has a message for shoppers in the West.  Sharti replies, “Come and see where I live.  If you pay a little more, we can live a little better.”  This simply stated response by Sharti brings light to the anything but simple reality for so many people all over the world who are abused through their work related to the fashion industry. It is heart-breaking to say the least.

 


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Hand embroidering at Swallows, one of People Tree's fair trade partners in Banglasdesh.

Photo credit - Saffia Minney

  

Interwoven with input from over 40 contributors, the chapters then take readers through examples of how and why Fair Trade is part of the solution, the influence of the media, and stylists, conversations with designers who have chosen the ethical route, key points regarding the Fair Trade supply chain, producer profiles, brand profiles, and the merits of vintage items and upcycling.  Four of the eight chapters feature ‘Changemakers’ Chris Haughton (Illustrator), Miki Alcalde (photographer and Fair Trade supporter), Summer Rayne Oakes (model and activist), and Monju Haque (Founder of Bangladeshi Fair Trade outfit Artisan Hut).  A ‘Changemaker’ is defined in the book as “Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”  Loaded with colorful images as well as rich insights, Naked Fashion concludes with a guide listing some of the brands pioneering ethical fashion.   

 

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Orla Kiely for People Tree organic cotton dress.

Photo credit - Saffia Minney

 

Naked Fashion presents the fashion industry for what it is, in hopes that readers will look at a piece of clothing or an accessory and thoughtfully consider the possible human cost of each item.  These truths are followed by real life inspirational examples of professionals in all facets of the industry who are working to make sure that people are not the cost of fashion.  In closing her introductory letter at the beginning of the book, Author Safia Minney writes “We hope Naked Fashion will inspire you to be part of the change we need to be.”  I, for one, am inspired. 


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  Forest and Fauna

Photo credit - Jonathan Rose

 

To purchase a copy of Naked Fashion, visit the New Internationalist website.  The ISBN for the title is 978-178026-041-9, the UK price is 14.99 RRP, and the US/Can price is $24.95.

 

 

 

EFW US based writer Magaly Fuentes-Sagan has a broad range of interests spanning art, fashion, travel, environmental issues, health and wellness. With an AS in Fashion Design and a BA in International Business and Marketing as well as a comprehensive fashion career that has included couture bridal design, sportswear product development, visual merchandising, buying and marketing management, Magaly brings the scope of her experience and passions to her written work.

 

 
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