Safia Minney interviews “Princess of Punk” Zandra Rhodes

This week People Tree Founder and CEO Safia Minney is with iconic British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes in Japan. Zandra and Safia launched the People Tree with Zandra Rhodes Collection at a fabulous event at the British Embassy in Tokyo, where journalists and other guests enjoyed Fair Trade tea and scones with jam. Zandra Rhodes is known as the Princess of Punk. Read Safia’s exclusive interview with Zandra Rhodes…

Zandra and Safia at the British Embassy
Zandra and Safia at the British Embassy

Safia Minney: We’re having a bit of a punk revival in London at the moment. When you look at it, what do you think?
Zandra Rhodes: I think there is definitely a punk revival going on. Right down to The Metropolitan Museum in New York with their Punk Chaos to Couture exhibition, which used my clothes with the beaded safety pins and the tears. But I don’t know if things are moving as far as that.

Safia: So when you think of People Tree doing punk – this nice soft brand that cares for people and the planet – doing it a bit edgy and styling it hard, does that seem like a contradiction to you? Or do you quite like the idea of caring, soft ethical consumers walking around looking much harder than they really are?

Zandra Rhodes: Fashion means that you go with the flow. Providing you don’t lose sight of the ethics that make you tick. If things are hard edge and they have a punky look it doesn’t mean you don’t care. There’s a big tattoo trend amongst young people at the moment. They may look dangerous but are actually soft and fluffy too!


Safia: Punk was pretty anti-establishment, right?

Zandra: I think that on a street level punk was pretty anti-establishment. I took it from clothes – why can’t you pin a sleeve into a dress instead of sewing it? Why can’t you take things the same way that screen printing has gone into laser digital printing?

It’s just the same way as Elsa Schiaparelli used the ‘tears’ graphic designed by Salvador Dali on her dress with tares on the train. You can get a bit more photographic. Why not get a bit three dimensional? In that way I saw tears on clothes could be beautiful and luxurious. I think now it would be accepted, so you can go that way with Punk!

Safia: Where does the punk revival come from this time do you think? Is there anything happening culturally around the world that might have brought it on? 

Zandra: Sometimes all it takes is a magazine or an exhibition to cause a fashion revival. Dresses made out of garbage bags or made to look like they’ve been made out of garbage bags – I’m never quite sure which way things are going.

Safia Minney, Zandra Rhodes and Fumi Suzuki wearing Zandra Rhodes for People Tree
Safia Minney, Zandra Rhodes and Rika Sueyoshi wearing Zandra Rhodes for People Tree

Want more?

Read about Zandra’s journey to India to develop her collaboration with People Tree.

Watch the story of Zandra’s trip to India.

Shop the Zandra Rhodes with People Tree Collection.

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