Underwear_columbiaNaja is a maker of fast fashion trend lingerie with the social responsibility ethos of a slow fashion company. Founded by Catalina Girald, a former lawyer who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at age four, Naja is working to empower women to create on-trend products using environmentally-friendly techniques. Its goal is to empower marginalized women by creating on-trend, eco-friendly lingerie.

Fast fashion products are meant to imitate trends from major fashion events, such as New York Fashion Week. Naja’s products are stylish and resemble these trends, but are unique in that, like slow fashion trends, those working to make the products are paid fairly and empowered to create sturdy, quality products.

Female empowerment starts with economic independence. Naja employs economically-marginalized single mothers and female head of households. Fair pay and health benefits are included in the package, but the real beauty of Naja’s model comes in that it offers flexible scheduling and full support for its workers’ children, including paying for school lunches and other necessities. In addition, the company has vertically integrated parts of its supply chain, enabling it to have greater control over conditions for the productive processes.

Naja also combines advocacy with businesses by raising consumer awareness of the difficult realities of living in war-torn and violent countries. The main program it does this through is the Underwear for Hope program. Half of the proceeds from this program are taken home by the women making the products, and the other half is donated to the Golondrinas Foundation, which teaches women micro-entrepreneurship. This is in addition to the two percent of total revenue from all sales Naja donates to Colombian education charities.

Underwear for Hope provides a stable, living income and a chance to work from home for impoverished women in Colombia. The program teaches women to sew, a skill useful both at home for supporting a family and as a primary source of income. The women in the program make the lingerie wash bags Naja includes when a customer orders a bra. This helps to spread the message about Naja’s goals and to humanize the products women wear by matching a face to the product, just as Naja does on its website when customers look at a specific product.

Fast fashion works by attracting a customer base looking for on-trend clothing while supporting a cause. Naja competes for this customer base by creating runway-worthy products with unique artistic designs, showing that fashion can be both slow and trendy. Naja also incorporates eco-friendly materials, such as recycled plastics, and eco-friendly production methods, such as digital printing, to attract and build their socially-conscious consumer base.

Lucas Woodling

Photo: Flickr