Friday 13 November 2015

Bookshelf | Naked Fashion

I always find that a good book makes you think. There is definitely plenty of food for thought in "Naked Fashion" by Safia Minney. The way it is presented makes me think of a magazine: lots of interviews, photos, and info graphics. It is very visually engaging, no doubt about that, yet the message in the begging is not so pretty.

The opening pages ask you a simple question: Why are the clothes you buy so cheap? I mean who doesn't love a bargain, and personally I love to take advantage of a good sale. Yet if the cost of a garment is seriously low from the get go, not only is there not much further to fall, but surely it raises some eyebrows, how is it even possible? When you consider the chain of production starting from the raw material, that is made into fabric, sewn into your garment, and only than is presented in the store, at each point there are people involved. Taking into account that everyone, including the shop staff, needs to get payed, surely someone is a looser? In the very first chapter you get to see some of the people who got handed the short end of the stick from the fast fashion industry, and read their stories.

However, this book is not just about pointing out what is wrong,  it presents solutions with real life examples. Safia Minney is the founder of People Tree, not surprisingly the brand features in the book, but it is far from being the main focus. There are interviews with artists, photographers, industry insiders, people who not only chose the ethical way of doing business, but also have done so successfully. Some of the more familiar names are probably Orla Kiely and Emma Watson. I loved all the interviews, one of the most entertaining in a way was with Adam Harvey, an account manager at a creative agency. He let a picture of himself, wearing an unbuttoned shirt, be used to demonstrate what a difference photo touch up creates. There are three photos side by side: the untouched original, a 'natural' touch up, and one with a lot more work (which sort feels like the industry standard judging by some magazine pictures). You can see just your sort of decently built guy from the first picture, get transformed into someone who is sporting a six pack and somehow lost all body hair (not that there was loads to begin with). Also suddenly his shoulders were seriously wider. With editing programs at our fingertips possibilities are endless, it is so easy to reconstruct photos to the point that they are nothing like the original, and it is a little bit sad. Of course it is absolutely amazing the potential creative force of graphics, but should it be at the cost of our self esteem, or the actual art of photography? 

This book looks at the impacts of the fashion industry as whole: from the effects of growing cotton, to the treatments of models. It is beautifully put together, and printed on FSC paper. Even though it was published in 2011, and some things have changed, unfortunately the message is still painfully relevant. There will be a new book, "Slow Fashion", coming out in January 2016, I can not wait to get my hands on it.

I would love to hear what you guys think! Let me know in the comments.

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