World Fair Trade Day 2018 and Modern Slavery

Is this you?
Do you LOVE Fashion? HATE Sweatshops?

1) READ: Slave to Fashion

Safia Minney with Slave to FashionSafia Minney’s book raises awareness of modern slavery in the fashion industry, shows how it can be eradicated by business & consumers.
Available here from publisher New Internationalist
or on Amazon UK/US.

2) CELEBRATE: World Fair Trade Day – 12th May 2018

World Fair Trade Day, launched in 2001, has become the focal point for the Fair Trade movement to celebrate, in myriad culturally diverse ways, its achievements and to promote its aims.
Safia Minney Fair Trade Day Love Fashion Hate SweatshopsSafia says: “As consumers, we have the power to take a stand against our dysfunctional capitalist system, to make purchasing choices that reflect who we are and how we want the world to be. Things have moved on since the early days of the Fair Trade movement and pioneers such as the Body Shop.

I was swept up in the first wave of ethical consumerism and activism on that inauspicious day over 30 years ago, in Oxfam on Oxford Street, where I stumbled across a book on Third World Poverty and the need for Fair Trade.

Today, we can all be part of the second wave, which is being driven by social media and digital innovation, to ensure transparency in supply chains and demand an end to modern slavery and worker exploitation. There is also
an important place for protests and writing to MPs and brands.

My book ‘Slave to Fashion’ provides many of the tools you need to make a difference, while also highlighting some innovative projects that you can support and learn from as you continue on your own ethical journey.”

Follow @wfto_fairtrade for more on #FairTradeDay and how you can TAKE ACTION TOO!
#LiveFair read more here: https://wfto.com/events/world-fair-trade-day-2018-0

#LoveFashionHateSweatshops
#SlaveToFash #SlaveToFashion
#ModernSlavery #SafiaMinney
Photo credit @WarOnWant

Read more about ‘Fair Trade’ here on Safia’s blog

Slave to Fashion Book Design, Matt Morgan, @Fact_Studio

 

fair rubber logo

Find out more about the Fair Rubber Po-Zu use in their Sri Lankan produced sneakers.

click here https://www.fairrubber.org/english/

and here: Po-Zu Fair Rubber sneakers

Fair Rubber sneakers

Safia Minney and Caryn Franklin Rana Plaza Bangladesh

Caryn Franklin became one of my closest friends after visiting Bangladesh in 2014 together to meet injured victims and families of the garment factory workers that lost their lives in the Rana Plaza building collapse the year before – and to understand the difference that Fair Trade Fashion makes.

Safia Minney and Caryn Franklin, Rana Plaza 1 year on

On the morning of the disaster, I was on a plane leaving Bangladesh and on reaching London heard the news. We immediately launched the Rag Rage campaign at People Tree and raised money to distribute rice and essential supplies to the effected families through the National Garment Workers Federation an organisation I had campaigned with for over 20 years.

watch the video here:

The brands who made garments at the Rana Plaza factory took a disgraceful amount of time to own up and take responsibility. Thanks to media coverage, the public pressure here and of people in Bangladesh and international campaigning organisations and unions, the Accord, that had been prepared by campaigning groups, was finally signed by the majority of large brands.

Today 90% of large scale factories have been checked and are considered safe, however, this is NOT the case in other garment producing countries AND prices and delivery times for clothes in Bangladesh has fallen 10%, which means that workers are being exploited and pushed more than ever.

This movement NEEDS you – please share info and help us bring more people into the movement.

Virtually visit Bangladesh here with Caryn and I to learn more and understand why we need to do fashion differently.

The London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, curated by Po-Zu showcases many of the ethical and fair trade pioneers like People Tree, Howies, Lowie, Wear the Walk, Brother We Stand, and the workshops running tonight:

Friday 27th April:

POP-UP SHOP AND SAMPLE SALE: 11:00-19:00

EVENT: 16:00-19:00 People Tree – Behind the Brand – Find out how we do things differently. By donation, Register here

For one evening you will be invited to come and meet the People behind People Tree.

Saturday 28th April:

POP-UP SHOP AND SAMPLE SALE: 10:00-18:00

EVENT: 11:00-12:00 The New Frontier – Broadening the Media Debate on Ethical Fashion and The Vegan Revolution, £7 Register here.

Panel: Safia Minney – MBE, author, activist, MD of Po-Zu & founder of People Tree, Kate Arnell – British television presenter/Eco Blogger, Bel Jacobs – Fashion, Style, Beauty & Culture, previously Style Editor for Metro, Tansy Hoskins – author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, political commentator on the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera and Channel 4’s Ten O’Clock Live, Zoe Partridge – founder of Wear the Walk, Lara Balsam – Lara runs a London-based vegan charity, and blogs at myfairladle.co.uk, where she serves up big helpings of ethical food and fashion

This will help raise awareness and galvanise and inspire a new generation of change makers and help raise money for NGWF.

Special thanks to Caryn Franklin for accompanying me on this trip, and for continued support and friendship.

Follow Safia on instagram here

 

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Safia Minney, speaking engagements, April to July 2018

Safia Minney, MBE, author, activist, MD of Po-Zu & founder of People Tree, will be speaking at the following events:

1) Monday 23 April 2018 – Fashion for Good in Amsterdam

ReMake-Nexus-Amsterdam-201819:00 – 20:00 – Panel with Ethical Fashion Trailblazers – Safia Minney (Founder, People Tree), Antoinette Klatzky (Executive Director, Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute); Ruby Veridiano (Paris Ambassador, Remake)

The panel will be focused on how a variety of stakeholders can interact with one another to move the industry forward, highlighting the important we are each doing in our roles.

Please use this RSVP link to book your ticket.

Fashion for Good
102 Rokin
1012 KZ Amsterdam
Netherlands

London Sustainable Fashion Rooms_poster-digital_po-zu LOGOS

2) Tuesday 24th April – London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, The Truman Brewery

18:30 – 19:30 Rana Plaza – Never Again – 5 Years On, £7 Register here.

Panel: Safia Minney MBE
Baroness Lola Young – OBE, Actress, Author and Crossbench Peer
Sarah Ditty – Fashion Revolution
Tamsin Lejeune – Common Objective and Founder of the Ethical Fashion Forum
Dolly Jones – Journalist
Sam Maher – Clean Clothes Campaign
Mariusz Stochaj – Earth Positive

Also at the venue – POP-UP SHOP AND SAMPLE SALE: 11:00-20:00

Shop 4 The Old Truman Brewery
Dray Walk
London
E1 6QL

3) Thursday 26th April – London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, The Truman Brewery

18:30-19:30 Sustainable Design, Sourcing and Buying, £7 Register here

Panel: Safia Minney – MBE
Sven Segal – Founder of Po-Zu
Nina Marenzi – The Sustainable Angle
Tamsin Lejeune – Common Objective & Founder of the Ethical Fashion Forum
Bronwyn Lowenthal – founder of Lowie

Also at the venue all week, POP-UP SHOP AND SAMPLE SALE: 11:00-20:00

4) Saturday 28th April – London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, The Truman Brewery

11:00-12:00 The New Frontier – Broadening the Media Debate on Ethical Fashion and The Vegan Revolution, £7 Register here.

Panel: Safia Minney – MBE
Kate Arnell – British television presenter/Eco Blogger
Bel Jacobs – Fashion, Style, Beauty & Culture, previously Style Editor for Metro
Tansy Hoskins – author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, political commentator on the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera and Channel 4’s Ten O’Clock Live
Zoe Partridge – founder of Wear the Walk
Lara Balsam – Lara runs a London-based vegan charity, and blogs at myfairladle.co.uk, where she serves up big helpings of ethical food and fashion

Also at the venue all week, POP-UP SHOP AND SAMPLE SALE: 11:00-20:00*

5) Sunday 20th May – BAFTS – {British Association of Fair Trade Shops} Annual conference

BAFTS conference 2018Speakers: Safia Minney MBE
Sian Conway of Ethical Hour
Sabita Banerji Chair of Oxford Fair Trade Coalition
Emilie Schultze Traidcraft Exchange
Jo Bega CEO Child Rescue Nepal
Josh Pitts from Equal Exchange UK

Book tickets here

Westbourne Grove Church
London
W11 2RW

6) Tokyo June 9-10th – NELIS {Next Leaders’ Initiative for Sustainability}

NELIS JapanSafia will be speaking at NELIS {Next Leaders’ Initiative for Sustainability} in Japan.

Tokyo June 9-10th, 2018 – for more information, please email: info@nelis2020.net

Make sure to follow Safia on twitter and instagram – as we shall be sharing more there too

7)  July 28, 2018 | New York City

freetheslaves

Safia Minney will be Keynote Speaker at the FREE THE SLAVES, Fashion for Freedom event, July 28, 2018 | 6:00 to 10:00pm
The Mezzanine NYC | 55 Broadway​, New York, NY 10006

Pop-up shop and speakers.

Tickets and information here: http://www.ftsfashionforfreedom.com/tickets.html

*[London Sustainable Fashion Rooms – EVENT: Monday 23 – Sunday 29 April, The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1 6QL From niche to norm: Ethical fashion and footwear takes centre-stage during Fashion Revolution Week in this week-long community hub and pop-up boutique curated by Po-Zu.]

Fashion Revolution Week 2018 – events and lectures

5 years after the Rana Plaza building collapse we need to be asking ourselves what has changed?

[London Sustainable Fashion Rooms – EVENT: Monday 23 – Sunday 29 April, The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1 6QL

From niche to norm: Ethical fashion and footwear takes centre-stage during Fashion Revolution Week in this week-long community hub and pop-up boutique curated by Po-Zu.]

Being an optimist, and working in my niche of ethical business, I see huge change and initiatives around me that give me hope; we have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that the better corporations are engaging with, even if motivated more by risk-proofing their businesses than doing the ‘right’ thing; also millennials are asking for transparency and questioning our flawed economic system, the growing Ethical & Fair Trade movements, The True Cost documentary and Fashion Revolution Week have helped build greater awareness, products, markets and the UK Modern Slavery Act is a piece of legislation that we can use to hold companies accountable. However, companies and the system that they have created, are still exploiting farmers and workers and our finite planetary resources and a shocking pace. Despite new interest in veganism and animal rights and plastic micro fibre pollution – it’s clear that we are NOT doing enough, quickly enough.

Human rights and environmentalism brought me to setting up a Fair Trade business and supply chains. We need alternative products, thinking and systems to shift into a new economic system. For fashion 5 years on marks a catagoric shift of change for consumers and the fashion industry. I remember working with those who lost their loved ones and were injured in Bangladesh, distributing donations of rice and supplies with NGWF, whose work we have supported for years. It’s personal to me, it’s about consumers and companies doing the right thing, so that workers can work with dignity and earn well, it’s about correcting a dysfunctional trading system and the way that we relate to each other.

I’m organising this event with some of the best ethical fashion brands and influencers in the hope that we will all learn something and that we can easily be a part of the solution – not the problem. We really hope that you’ll come along and want to share this with friends your community.

Click here to book FREE TICKETS to our series of events in London during Fashion Revolution Week:

Books in my DNA? Safia Minney, Author

Safia writes:

Books in my DNA? Yes, books kind of run in my blood. My Grandparents ran a book publishing house and book shop in Zurich. They published political books, papers and religious books. My Mother and her sisters studied librarianship. Before the days of computers they were expected to have read every book in the shop and were expected to make recommendations to customers from memory.

I remember as a child spending hours in my Gran’s book shop cellar where specialist titles and stock was kept. Of course, I couldn’t read German so many of the books were closed to me, but there were a few children’s illustrated books which I loved and lots of different sized German/ English dictionaries to dip into.  Books were wrapped with gorgeous wrapping paper as presents and brown paper and string for your own use – there were no plastic bags in sight.

I became, like many happy kids, an avid reader at seven, but then my dad died suddenly of stomach cancer, and the shock burst my childhood bubble.  I was the eldest and I felt I had to help my Mum. I stopped reading and fell behind at school. I started to dream about going out to work and earn money, so I could look after my family. I left school at 17 and oddly started as a production assistant at a publishing company working on a magazine.  I loved co-ordinating the artwork for ads, and learning how a magazine is put together. I wanted to understand how it worked as a business so I studied advertising, communications and PR in the evenings and tried different business ideas to test my skills, renting a desk in a nearby office and starting a gorilla gram company in my lunch hour and around work. I became a pretty good marketeer and associate publisher, but I still didn’t have the confidence to write.

I began to write when I started People Tree in Japan. I would research human rights and environmental issues and write articles in English, and then check the nuance of translations in Japanese with the help of patient friends and colleagues reading in Japanese to me. Having a baby helped me get over two decades of ‘writer’s block’.  With as little as 30 minutes to myself between my son, Jerome’s naps, I just had to stop over-thinking and  ‘get it down’.

My first books, By Hand, Naked Fashion, etc, started as a huge wall-paper like flat-plan taking up half my sitting room, I would take photographs with my friend Miki Alcalde in countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, India.  I would interview people as I travelled at our Fair Trade producers and started doing investigative journalism to find out the true cost of fast fashion. Once I had decided on the structure of the book, I would write page by page, racing rather, as I had two companies to run, as well as my family. My first book, was sari covered and hand typeset by Professor Lal in Kolkata, India and told the stories of Fair Trade activists and artisans, then came By Hand, Naked Fashion, Slow Fashion and Slave to Fashion and an autobiography in between – some in Japanese and all in English.  Even my son wrote a book called; Fair Trade for kids based on his experience of kids working in Indonesia.

Reading List

  1. SLOW FASHION – AESTHETICS MEETS ETHICS – Buy it here
  2. NAKED FASHION – THE NEW SUSTAINABLE FASHION REVOLUTION  –Buy it here
  3. BY HAND – THE FAIR TRADE FASHION AGENDA – Buy it here
  4. SLAVE to FASHION – Buy it here

MaineEthics insta-slow-fashion-book

I always say that I will NEVER write another book or take on another book project. But you never know…some stories are just bursting to be told…

 

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safia minney slave to fashion world book day

Shining a light on modern slavery in the fashion industry – follow Slave to Fashion on instagram, share our book to raise awareness –  – question fashion supply chain practices, talk about this at school, at work…on social media #SlaveToFash and not just on World Book Day…

20 February 2018 is the United Nations’ “World Day of Social Justice”

The theme for 2018 is – Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice.

Safia writes:

I started as a human rights activist, then became an ecologist and then realised that I needed to become a social entrepreneur to prove that business could be done differently. That business could be a cause for rights violations and it could also be a huge power for good.

That farmers and the makers of our clothes, shoes, food and social justice can be central to good business. With Fair Trade, citizens can promote social inclusion and environmental justice and hold large corporations accountable. Today, empower the workers by bringing the “ME TOO”, campaign awareness to include the rights of women who make up the bulk of our fashion work force in the developing world.

When researching for my book, Slave to Fashion, I met with Elizabeth Khumallambam in Gurgaon, near Delhi. She is senior co-ordinator of Nari Shakti Manch, which campaigns and supports women migrant workers whose rights are violated.

Extract-from-Safia-Minney-Book--Slave-to-Fashion

‘We organize migrant women in the community and work at a political, economic and social level to address the problems they face,’ Elizabeth tells me. ‘They are exploited as they are totally unaware of their rights.
In the garment industry, they are badly paid and not given regular work. In their communities they are forced to buy groceries at a shop in the building where they rent a room at exorbitant prices. If they try to buy from cheaper shops, they get in trouble.’” read the full interview with Elizabeth Khumallambam, reference page 80-81, Slave to Fashion.

SEEMA’s story:

I am 32 years old and have two sons, aged 14 and 18. I started working in the garment industry seven years ago. I began in leather, cutting threads. When I made a mistake, my line manager stabbed me in the thigh with his pencil until it bled. I slapped him to defend myself, so they fired me. They tore up the paper which showed how many days I had worked and refused to pay me. I got a new job doing other piece-rate work, and now I am working as a tailor.
A lot of problems are due to the line managers: they try to find fault with our work. They told me, ‘If you start a relationship with me, I will overlook your mistakes.’ When I bent down to pick something up, they would make lewd comments:
‘I can see your body parts.’ They offered me money to have sexual relations with them. I feel humiliated, I feel ashamed to be a woman. I have children, I need to work. I wish I didn’t have to come to Delhi, but I have no choice. I work in a small factory now, as I was denied work with larger fashion factories because I publicly reported the harassment and was blacklisted from larger factories. I am in a desperate situation; I don’t have enough to eat; I have a big bill at the food-ration shop in my apartment block and I am obliged to buy provisions from there. Also, my husband left me and married another woman. For the last three months I have been unable to send money home for my sons, 24 hours away by train in Jacar. Why are women not looked at the same way as men? I come out of the house and I want the same status, but I am not treated equally. Don’t say that it is wrong for women to work. I have two children and I cannot pay my bills. I cannot raise my children without a job. Don’t be prejudiced against women, give us equality! I need a job with overtime for 12,000 rupees ($180) a month to survive. Extract Slave to Fashion.

Livia Firth, Creative Director & CEO of Eco-Age shares her message for World Day of Social Justice:

“Sustainable fashion is all about the people in the supply chain – what we call the handprint of fashion, is made by millions of invisible people working all over the world  to produce the clothes that we wear. It is fundamental that they are treated with the same respect as we would treat ourselves and sadly today that is not the case. One only has to read Safia’s book Slave to Fashion to understand that a change is imperative”.

Sven Segal, Founder, Po-Zu:

“I started Po-Zu, the ethical footwear company, because I couldn’t stand seeing people suffering and wanted to be part of the solution, not part of a system built on social injustice”. (read more about ethical footwear at BetterShoes.org)

Social justice is possible when we remove barriers based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. Find out more here: 

Follow and support and celebrate #SocialJusticeDay on Safia’s social media here

 

The perfect Valentine’s – how to do it, like you MEAN it

Safia writes:

Let’s go to our favourite jazz venue, feast on organic food, melt away into each other’s eyes, openness and arms and… surrender.

That’s my fantasy but somehow I get stuck every Valentine’s Day on campaigns about sharing the love. I’m not talking about wild orgies here. I’m talking about Fairtrade roses, and ethical, conflict-free jewellery. But does all that ‘stuff’ really matter? Isn’t it about listening, love, acts of real kindness, and each other’s growth?

Needless to say, I become a very difficult person to please… However, people like me are growing in number; people who, even on, and maybe especially on, Valentine’s Day, want authenticity and ethics. Of course, I take no responsibility if my suggestions get you into trouble, or raise the expectations so HIGH that you find them difficult to sustain …

Here are some personal favourites that promote well-being, health and sustainability

  1. There are some very cool lingerie and underwear brands out there for men. They might delight in imagining you imagining them wearing them. Try Mighty Good Pants and Allvar – both great underwear brands for men.
  2. People Tree NightwearIf you’re buying for women, People Tree camisole sets are affordable, have impeccable organic cotton and fair trade quality and credentials, and are extra cute when used to wrap up a bottle of her favourite perfume or a book she would love.
  3. AmaElla-Duchess-organicFor a luxury lingerie experience try AmaElla where the organic panties and camisoles are pretty, feminine, and cut to flatter – with cute details of velvet ribbon and petal packaging. You feel loved. Organic intimates are a way of celebrating her gorgeousness and health.
  4. Po-Zu Red Resistance sneakers for you both? Hand-crafted in Portugal in organic cotton canvas for the active and fun, this ‘matchy-matchy’ look may be a little Japanese in aesthetic, but these sneakers are comfortable and stylish.po-zu_divine

How about adding one of my favourite chocolate brands, Divine? It’s a company owned by the cocoa producers and is good-tasting as well as good-looking. There seems to be a ‘matching’ trend in ethical weddings. If you’re into that form of showing commitment, people are getting wed top-to-toe in ethical fashion. (We love this photograph from Sarah Passos‘ nuptials – Fabulous Po-Zu wedding sneakers shot by Sara Reeve).

Po-Zu wedding sneakers
Fabulous Po-Zu wedding sneakers shot by Sara Reeve

And for those women amongst us not in a traditional relationship, we might want to empower ourselves with something experiential, like the film season Girlfriends about female friendships, at the BFI, Southbank, a selection of films which runs until 20 March. There’s also the classic “Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion”, screening on 13th February for Galentine’s Day. If you’re not based in London, finding a film on a feminist theme for you and your friends is a fun and truly loving thing to do.

Most of all, be kind. Give warm smiles to strangers in the street if you feel it. And remember that it’s rare that someone is not in need of a little kindness…

I call my partner to ask what he would like for Valentine’s and he asks for an afternoon off, a leisurely lunch followed by a walk in the park. I guess the most precious gift is the gift of time.

And if you buy something new, buy ethically, so that the love and respect spreads to the producer, and the planet isn’t further stripped naked…

Plastic micro-fibre pollution from laundry in tap water

Flo Nolan, ethical fashion lifestyle writer, interviews Safia Minney and discusses plastic micro-fibre pollution in tap water, from laundering clothes.

You spoke at the Fashion SVP seminar “Sustainable Sourcing: Fresh Challenges, New Opportunities” bringing together specialsists to discuss what the fashion industry can do about micro-fibre pollution from clothing wash off.  Why should we care?

Mircro-fibres caught the attention of the public last year with Orb Media’s report that found that over 83% of the worlds drinking water is contaminated by micro-plastics, with one of the major culprits for this contamination being the fashion industry. Our drinking water is now full of plastic fibres, up to 5mm in length, as a direct result of fast fashion’s mass-production of clothes in synthetic materials.

The micro fibres are ingested by fish and filter feeders, like mussels and oysters, and are rapidly becoming part of the food chain.

This contamination happens when synthetic clothing is washed in washing machines and the micro-fibres they are composed of wash off and end up in water treatment plants but are not filtered out.

This contaminated water flows back into the water table systems and our drinking water, our fields, polluting the soil that we rely on for crops. They have polluted our oceans and some argue are as numerous as plankton so naturally they are ingested by fish and filter feeders, like mussels and oysters, and are rapidly becoming part of the food chain.

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, brought home the issues that face our oceans and the effect of plastic pollution on it – can we use this media attention and heightened public awareness to change the fashion industry and the way we buy clothing and care for it?

The fashion industry must reduce production in synthetic fibres and fabrics and producing in natural and organic fibres.  As consumers we should buy natural fibres and re-consider the way we buy clothing and shoes.  Buying less and demanding longevity and quality is a good start.  We can also wash the synthetic clothes we own less and when we wash them in a Guppy bag to collect the micro fibres and throw these in the trash.

I hope more consumers will switch to natural fibre and fabric alternatives  –  I’m surprised that people who embrace well-being that choose synthetic yoga wear rather than organic cotton yoga wear despite it being very affordable as well as allowing your skin to breath.

The fashion industry and government needs to be looking at a ban and regulation on the production of synthetics and how to filter water to reduce micro-fibre pollution.  I think there needs to be a ban like the micro-bead ban passed in 2017.  I fear that the vested interests from the fast fashion industry in synthetic fibre, acrylic, polyester, etc; because they are cheap, is just too huge.  We will have to raise awareness and campaign from within the industry, as Patagonia are, alongside ethical fashion pioneers, together with consumers and environmental organisations to push the Government for regulation.

If all else fails, I think we should ask fashion company CEO’s to drink water with micro-fibres in relation to how much synthetic fashion they produce!

So what can fashion brands do to avoid mircro-fibre pollution? How does People Tree and Po-Zu do it differently?

When I founded People Tree 27 years ago, I decided I would try to make clothes using only natural fibres because I didn’t want to use synthetics as they are unbiodegradable. It was on the basis of using fashion as a tool for change.  As a way of producing fibres like organic cotton, hemp, nettle and jute in a way that protects the environment and creating livelihoods for economically marginalised people and artisans in rural areas. The difference between brands such as People Tree and Po-Zu and fast fashion brands is that we think downstream, back into supply chain. We design our clothes and shoes using sustainable materials and avoid using toxic substances in the production process.

We build sustainable supply chains that reflect best practice with relation to people and the environment. Organic and natural fibres that break down in months rather than hundreds of years. People Tree worked to create standards for the farming of organic cotton, and we try to avoid synthetic materials even in our interfacings and accessories.   However it is difficult to eliminate synthetics completely – but as a company we have largely done so.

The dress I’m wearing today is 96% organic cotton with 4% elastane.   Po-Zu shoes uses organic cotton, cork, natural rubber and pineapple leaf fibre in its shoes and all these materials biodegrade quickly in the environment.

There are ways forward and quick wins.  We have a short time to reign in the huge levels of pollution from fast fashion production, these ‘externalities’ are not accounted for in our current economic modelling of fashion production, but they are fast destroying our health and the health of our planet.  We have evidence of the immediate effect of chemicals on people living near water waste and now mounting evidence that plastics can disrupt human hormones levels.

Safia Minney available for speaking engagements worldwide and also for consultancy work. Please contact: info@safia-minney.com

Further reading on the Fairtrade Coalition AGM on Anna Brindle’s blog 

‘Fair Trade’ added to Encyclopedia Britannica

Safia Minney writes: Great to see the new entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica for Fair Trade after over 30 years of what many would argue is the most significant grassroots movement for social justice and sustainability of our time.

Britannica Fair Trade
PLEASE CLICK IMAGE TO RETWEET

It has also led to the development of the MDGs (Millennium Development goals) and SDGs (Sustainable development goals) and other new bodies of thinking on New Economics, and standards for ethical business, and a ground swell for ethical consumption, etc. Fair Trade was seen in the 70s as a solution to poverty at a time when people were becoming increasingly disillusioned with ‘charity’, people were calling for ‘Trade not Aid’, (charity being seen as often ineffective, unsustainable, paternalistic and often hampering local economic development initiatives). Fair Trade began to be seen as a way of bringing long-term support through a partnering approach to trade whilst promoting better livelihoods, prices, gender equality, environmental sustainability, local initiatives and self-determination to empower people and create healthy economies. (I’ve seen it close up – it really does reach the parts other trade cannot reach.)Safia Minney Fair Trade
Fair Trade started linking small scale producer groups, but today the principles of Fair Trade now coming to large scale factories and farming practice, which is good on the whole. (Although, I would always prefer earning a living working on a handloom in a village rather than in a large factory).

I very much hope that the Sri Lanka ethical line that we have just developed at Po-Zu will create waves. Not just because they are beautiful sneakers, but also because as Po-Zu orders grow, we will be able to further widen our collections by bringing new natural materials to the factory and work more closely with the community and support the workers in ways that will make the most difference to them.

This is your chance to become a shareholder in Po-Zu, to earn some lovely rewards, like a pair of our first Sri Lanka shoes, and benefit from the growing interest in ethical fashion. Trend forecasters agree that ethical footwear is the next big thing – and this is the chance that doesn’t come along often. We hope that you’ll join our remarkable, committed and talented team at Po-Zu.

(Safia Minney received an MBE for her services to Fair Trade and Fashion in 2009. She is founder and built People Tree as Global CEO for 24 years. She is now Managing Director at Po-Zu. Watch this space).

Read the listing www.britannica.com/topic/fair-trade

Safia Minney available for speaking engagements worldwide and also for consultancy work. Please contact: info@safia-minney.com

Creating a Fashion Revolution

Some lovely people recognise me as the pioneer of sustainable fashion, they even stop me to chat on the tube in Tokyo or London.

I started my journey 27 years ago in Japan where I created People Tree the world’s leading Fair Trade and sustainable brand, indeed, creating a fashion revolution.

I built supply chains from scratch to benefit cotton farmers with regular orders and paid them organic and fairtrade premiums before the standards existed and then I helped to build these standards, including those for Fair Trade manufacture, with World Fair Trade Organisation – for the making of clothes, foods and other products.

For me it has always been about creating beautiful and desirable products – after all in Japan there was very little awareness of environmental issues and worker exploitation over two decades ago – if it wasn’t well-designed and of good quality, it wasn’t going to sell. I think cutting my teeth in Japan and working closely in collaboration with my artisans and fair trade groups and customers and buyers helped me build a success business.

With a background in advertising, publishing and media, I couldn’t believe the resources used to sell stuff that doesn’t make people happy and healthy, In fact most of the time it does the opposite.

When in the early 1990s I read about the exploitation in sportswear and denim factories it made my blood boil. We were tacitly holding up this exploitative system by buying these products. I realised that poor people give up control and how power is used to further impoverish them.

In 1995 we opened our first shop in Tokyo, probably the first eco-concept store, with lots of experiential opportunities for customers, they could drink fair trade coffee, browse a library of eco books, hear lectures from local environmentalists and producers would visit from India, Bangladesh, Kenya and all over… we had a handloom at the front of the store, ran fashion shows, hunger banquets and jewellery making classes.

In 2000 I brought People Tree to London with the help of my former boss at Marketing Week. We started to build traction when Wayne Hemingway featured People Tree on Breakfast television, and Sienna Miller wore People Tree for a fashion feature with The Telegraph. But these were the very early days of ethical fashion.

Safia and Zandra RhodesI was delighted as the business grew. We had 800 stores selling People Tree. I would run press trips with opinion leaders, journalists, celebrities and designers like Emma Watson, Zandra Rhodes, Laura Bailey etc. to meet the farmers and artisans in the villages where we work. We were proving another way of doing business works at the same time we were building a new sector, ethical fashion, and setting a new agenda for the fashion industry and we were working closely with civil society grassroots organisations too, to understand the challenges faced by the people that make our fashion industry so profitable.

We brought their stories and showed how it could be done differently through TV documentaries and news programmes with many Japanese producers and in fashion and womens magazines internationally.

In 2013, ‘True Cost’ Director, Andrew Morgan approached me following the Rana Plaza building collapse. We started a long journey together with Livia Firth, Lucy Siegle and many other great friends in the sustainable fashion movement.

Re-designing a more sustainable fashion industry

the-true-costThe True Cost movie was watched by over 10 million people thanks to a lot of hard work, support and collaboration. There were dozens of red carpet screenings around the world, attended by fashion people from Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and many other high profile luxury designers; it was shown in Fashion companies and Fashion colleges, and the public realised that the slow food approach had come to fashion.

Also, Fashion Revolution, with over 100 country offices has spread new thinking about fashion, and the workers behind it and our home – our planet. We have made a unique turning point. Transparency and ethics have become a lead product attribute, and in a crowded market people are asking about the people behind the product, about animal rights and the impact on the environment and checking the companies are really walking their talk.

I’m delighted that I can help Po-Zu develop an ethical shoe line in Sri Lanka. It’s great to learn about a new product area, however the sustainable materials are the same and so largely are the customers who frankly just want a pair of cool shoes to complete their ethical look. Hopefully with Po-Zu founder (pictured far left) Sven Segal’s incredible design eye we can create the ethical statement shoe – the most beautiful part of an outfit – whilst making feet, the foundation of well being, the happiest that they can be.

We have great plans for Po-Zu to make it THE go to ETHICAL FOOTWEAR brand. WE know how to do it. We hope you’ll want to be part of it and that you will join us on CrowdCube and become a shareholder.

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