Naked Fashion – Safia Minney

Image Credits: New Internationalist

“Creativity, compassion and consumption have to learn to go hand in hand.”

I first heard about social entrepreneur Safia Minney and her label People Tree in 2013, when she created a fashion collection in collaboration with actress and activist Emma Watson. At the time I had just started working in Milan’s fashion industry and articles about sustainability had begun appearing in the imported fashion magazines I would purchase at the newsstand.

I had been out of high school for less than a year and was starting to take my first steps in fashion, so I was interested in the topic of fair trade but had not considered it in relation to my consumer habits. Anyway, when the Emma Watson x People Tree came out I bought a white and blue scarf from the collection and along with it came the brand catalogue; I was surprised at how great the clothes look, since when fair trade collections first appeared in the fashion industry most of the garments didn’t look fashionable and were quite plain. This collection by People Tree looked very preppy and vibrant, so that’s what led me to purchase the “Naked Fashion” book. Well, as the years went by, I moved house three or four times and the book always followed, but I didn’t get to read it until about a month ago. I have just finished a Fashion Business specialization course with New York’s Parsons School of Design and most of the course focused on the theme of sustainability and the need for an ethical supply chain, so when I spotted “Naked Fashion” in the fashion corner of my personal library I immediately picked up the book and read it. About time!

Although there are some points in the book where you definitely notice it was written more than ten years ago (the topic of social media is barely mentioned and the book is now out of print, but used copies are still available online), I think most of the themes it deals with are now more relevant than ever. We are living in a post-pandemic era, and climate change issues have gotten worse in the last decade; the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry, social media and influencer sponsorships have led to an era of excessive consumerism, especially fast fashion brands, while most of the clothes end up in landfills and pollute the oceans and the air we breathe. However, we must recognize that there have been significant changes, partly determined by the new generations who are interested in environmental issues; many surveys show that Millennials and Generation Z prefer to buy garments that last longer and are of better quality, also showing a particular interest in second-hand fashion.