In many ways gender construction begins very early in life, often even before a child is born. Many parents tend to design the space around their child in ways that indicate gender belonging. Whether or not we agree with the notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys (it did not used to be that way), we are likely to follow “accepted” norms and performances of gender, which are further built upon with the use of toys, clothes, and other items for young children and infants.
My daily wardrobe doesn’t reflect it, but I love fashion. I was one of the thousands that waited semi-patiently for hours to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum last summer, and I subscribe to Vogue primarily to drool over pictures of exquisitely crafted garments. So it was with great interest that I opened Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution – but also no small amount of trepidation. Would I come away feeling guilty about buying the occasional tank top from Old Navy? Would I be depressed by the inhumane working conditions that so many garment factory workers experience every day? Would I be overwhelmed by all the myriad ways that the mainstream fashion industry could make its practices more humane and environmentally responsible, yet fails to?
Well … yes, to varying degrees. But this collection of essays and interviews is also incredibly empowering, presenting a clear-eyed look at both what is wrong with current business practices and what individuals and designers can do to effect positive change. The contributors, including actress Emma Watson and designer Vivienne Westwood, don’t just offer their insights on fashion, but also on the related industries of graphic design, modeling, and advertising to give readers a fascinating look at what really goes into the clothes we buy.