Pakistan Fashion DNA – mentoring

Pakistan Fashion DNA – mentoring

Safia Minney writes:

It was wonderful working with some of Pakistan’s most creative fashion designers Zuria Dor, Gulabo, Pink Tree, Jeem, Munib Nawaz & Sonya Battla as part of a program to promote ethics and culture by the British Council.

Despite having a rich handcraft and textile heritage, unlike countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan has no Fair Trade movement.  My role in the mentoring program was to work with them to help develop their collections for London Fashion Week using sustainable and Fair Trade practices where possible.

British-Council-PakistanAll the designers are passionate about showcasing the best of Pakistan’s hand skills in their collections and their work is exquisite.  Some of my favourite skills like Zardozi embroidery, using metal wire beads together with hand embroidery, featured strongly in many collections.  Designers were also keen to use hand woven textile at the same time to innovate and use organic cotton and other materials – Munib was incredible at making very eco and avant garde fabrics locally.

One of the issues is that with weak local NGOs and trade unions, Pakistan has little awareness of minimum wages – let alone a debate about Living Wages.  Setting up cost sheets and looking at ways to reflect fair labour costs into design and product development reminded me of designing collections for People Tree with their producers.

The results were strong and some friendships made for life. Have a look at the fashion show presented at London Fashion Week.

Special thanks to other mentors that worked alongside me Sury Bagenal, Carrie Munden and Toby Meadows and Ethical Fashion Forum and the team at The British Council.

Filmed by my Safia’s daughter, Natalie Minney.

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Buy the Slave to Fashion book here in the UK

Safia Minney’s “Slave to Fashion” Book Launch at the Duke of Cambridge

Slave to Fashion Book launch 24 April 2017

Safia writes:

   It’s an historic day to launch a book.  The 4th anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh killing over 1,000 garment factory workers who work under highly exploitative conditions to make the clothes we buy, often for the price of a lunch, on our high streets.

I started the project excited to understand what the impact of the new UK Modern Slavery Act* meant to companies in changing their business practice and delivering fundamental human rights to their workers.  After having spent over two decades visiting factories and setting up ethical and Fair Trade supply chains, I feel a window of change is here. 

Friends and long-time campaigners, were calling me excited that the term ‘modern slavery’ was being used and that finally some progressive business leaders wanted ‘social dialogue’ and a level playing field and to enable them to look at their supply chains for slavery – whether it is ‘risk management’ or a sense of ‘wanting to do the right thing’ this has the potential to change things at the grassroots.  The principles of Fair Trade have never been more relevant. My hope is that the Slave to Fashion book provides a snap shot and promotes awareness on how can industry, campaigners and consumers can help eradicate slavery.

Published by New Internationalist and with the help of over 500 supporters through Kickstarter, what was clear was that a large number of people want to know more about modern-slavery in fashion supply chains.  The research took myself and Miki Alcalde, photographer and film-maker, to India, Cambodia and Bangladesh. I interviewed leaders in the anti-slavery movement, trade unions, progressive businesses and tech start-ups working on transparency.  Also, some of the most moving interviews were with people who themselves are caught up in slavery and lawyers and activists working to free them, rehabilitate them; and on prevention.  What’s clear is that the principles of Fair Trade and better business would radically help to do this.

I am deeply grateful to the supporters of the book, the team and contributors across the world that helped me to research and write Slave to Fashion.

Watch the Slave to Fashion launch event hosted by the Duke of Cambridge, Angel, Islington in London and supported by New Internationalist and Po-Zu ethical shoes.

Safia Minney’s “Slave to Fashion” Book Launch at the Duke of Cambridge.

The inspiration for Slave to Fashion came to me in a dream. The faces and hands of women, children and men reached out to me, calling, smiling, asking for solidarity, not charity, and for me to witness and tell their story. (It was not a nightmare; nightmares leave you trying to forget. In this dream I wanted to remember the feelings and the colours, and to reconnect with the people in it.) They are us and we are them…

Safia Minney, Author, and Managing Director of www.Po-Zu.com

Slave to Fashion book launch

To name a few, special thanks go to:
Caryn Franklin, Livia Firth & the Eco-Age team, Lucy Siegle, Geetie Singh-Watson, Andrew Morgan & The True Cost team, Baroness Lola Young, Cindy Berman, ETI, Quintin Lake, Tamsin Lejeune & Harold Tillman, CBE of Ethical Fashion Forum, Matt Morgan, Fact Studio, Walton Li, Liz Wilkinson, Wendy Chapman & the one-and-only Miki Alcalde for all their support and faith.

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Buy the Slave to Fashion book here in the UK

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/30/contents/enacted  *UK Modern

Slavery ActBook Cover Slave to FASHION

Slave to Fashion Book featured on Fairtrade Foundation blog

What do you know about modern slavery in fashion

Slave to Fashion front cover

by Safia Minney, Founder of People Tree and Managing Director of Po-Zu (ethical footwear company)

Safia launches her new book ‘Slave to Fashion’ during Fashion Revolution Week. The book discusses modern slavery in fashion supply chains and goes through Safia’s journey finding out more behind the fashion industry.

I’m hoping that Slave to Fashion will be a crash course on modern slavery;  why is it still happening in numbers like we have never seen before and what needs to change to stop it. Modern slavery includes; human trafficking, bonded, forced and child labour and excessive overtime.

The inspiration for Slave to Fashion came to me in a dream.

The faces and hands of women, children and men reached out to me, calling, smiling, asking for solidarity, not charity, and for me to witness and tell their stories.  I wanted a big solution to poverty, exploitation and social injustice…

The book covers The Modern Slavery Act, The Global economy, Meet the Slaves (to protect the people I changed their names and masked their faces with a pink ribbon), the Social & Technical Innovations and investigative journalism that is making the difference, and a Toolkit.

The Fair Trade movement has been key to building public awareness, set decent standards for different agricultural commodities and manufacturing for products and terms of trade and has inspired policy makers and the media. The MSA (Modern Slavery Act), passed in 2015, which included supply chains and requires companies with a turnover of £36mn to file a Slavery Report on what they are doing to eradicate slavery in their supply chains, requires sign off of the company board.  There is a lot that needs to happen to make this more effective and give the public access to this information, and make it easy to act upon.

The MSA represents a unique opportunity to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (remember those?!) and the Ruggie Principles (UN Guiding Principles and Human Rights). But what does this mean in reality for the workers?

It is clear that it has the power as companies are forced to get to know their supply chains and maintain information through good transparency, promote social dialogue, design and plan their orders better, to strengthen local legal systems, challenge corruption and strengthen human rights through laws and codes of practice that WORK,  including paying a living wage and respecting independent trade unions.

Researching, interviewing for and writing Slave to Fashion, I spend 6 months meeting women men and children in India, Cambodia and Bangladesh and hearing their stories and interviewed business people and activists working on human rights and slavery issues. Girls who were 12 when they started working at a cotton mill where her friends, other children were bonded labourers, and at 15 felt too exhausted and burnt out to work in a garment factory for 6 days a week; women who were trafficked and ended up in the sex and garment trade. Women who are sexually harassed by their male supervisors and who walk a thin line daily between losing the benefits of a permanent job and ‘giving sexual favours’. The sickening violence of slavery and misused power.

The great news is that there are Fairtrade, social enterprise and tech solutions out there and there are progressive companies too who are pushing the boundaries forward and inviting their peers to work with them to improve practice.

As a Fairtrade leader and entrepreneur, having worked in the so-called developing world with trade unions and economically marginalised people for over 20 years, we know that good trade can make a huge difference to people and prevent communities protect themselves from criminal gangs that broker people.

Slave to Fashion book launch - group photo

Safia Minney launches new book: Slave to Fashion, published by New Internationalist on 24th April 2017.

Ethical fashion leader and Founder of People Tree, Safia Minney joins sustainable footwear brand Po-Zu

Safia Minney, MBE joins Po-Zu, the award winning ethical footwear brand as Managing Director, to work alongside the Founder and CEO, Sven Segal.

Safia Minney: “I’m excited to be joining Sven and Po-Zu.  I have always been intrigued about ethical shoes. It’s great to bring my expertise and creativity to build positive change in the footwear industry. The more powerful, strong and innovative brands we have in this sector the better; we need more collaboration and sharing of knowledge as ethics in the fashion business are becoming a non- negotiable.  Po-Zu design aesthetic and values is a compelling proposition to customers world-wide.”

Sven Segal: “Safia is a rare individual within our industry and a prominent force for good; I’m absolutely thrilled about having her on board and working together. It feels a bit like being a lucky scriptwriter, working with one of your all-time favorite directors”.

Po-Zu is launching a co-branded STAR WARS™ / PO-ZU collection, which includes high quality replicas of footwear worn in the films by some of the key characters. The collection has been developed by Po-Zu and will be manufactured according to Po-Zu’s renowned ethical and sustainable practices in Portugal.  The co-branded range will be available to the public from August 2017.

For more information and interviews please contact:  press@po-zu.com

 

 

 

‘Slave to Fashion’ book and campaign Funding Success!

Over 500 people like you helped raise over £36,000 to fund ‘Slave to Fashion’ a new book & campaign on Modern Day Slavery in the fashion industry.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947623622/slave-to-fashion

Many of the largest supporters gathered together to celebrate the funding success.

Dame Zandra Rhodes, the iconic British fashion designer and Safia Minney have worked together for 4 years on capsule collections and media to promote Fair Trade and ethical fashion.

Zandra kindly hosted the evening at her fabulous penthouse in Bermondsey above her Textile and Design Museum.

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The party was supported with delicious organic catering from The Duke of Cambridge and Berrywhite drinks company – 25 guests discussed how to mainstream awareness on Modern Day Slavery and the new project, offering support beyond funding too.  There was an incredible energy in the room – a great networking event for all.

Many thanks to you for supporting ‘Slave to Fashion’!

 

 

‘Slave to Fashion’ Book & Campaign Succeeds its Kickstarter Fund Raising

What does modern slavery look like in fashion? And what can we do to eradicate it? Our ‘Slave to Fashion’ project will show how.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947623622/slave-to-fashion

‘Slave To Fashion’ book and campaign aims to raise awareness of modern slavery in the fashion industry and show how it can be eradicated by business and us as consumers. The project is led by Safia Minney, MBE – an award winning and internationally recognised social entrepreneur who has 30 years of publishing, media and ethical business experience.

Safia and her team will research and produce micro documentaries and interviews featuring stories of men, women and children caught in slavery in Europe and the developing world who make the clothes we buy on the high street. ‘Slave To Fashion’ will also profile the best ethical practice of brands and designers within the fashion industry. The book will prove that fashion can be used to empower workers – whilst creating beautiful, competitive and accessible fashion. Along with the publishing of the book, ‘Slave To Fashion’ will launch an educational micro website for schools around the world and create and distribute resources for campaigners.

From 2015, the Modern Slavery Act requires medium to large-sized companies to report on what they are doing to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. If not, they need to declare it.

‘Slave to Fashion’ book and campaign brings in the facts, stories and actions we must take to eradicate modern slavery.

The funding will be used to research, visit and conduct interviews, write, photograph and produce micro documentaries in the UK, Europe and the developing world. We aim to publish 10,000 copies of the ‘Slave To Fashion’ book. The cost breakdown is presented below:

Safia Minney, MBE – Author & Project Director
Safia Minney has 30 years of publishing and media experience. She is an award winning international social entrepreneur, author of ‘Naked Fashion’ and ‘Slow Fashion’, and founder and director of People Tree.

Miki Alcalde – Photographer & Filmmaker
Miki Alcalde has been working as a photographer and videographer alongside Safia Minney for the past 8 years, in more than 20 assignments documenting People Tree’s producers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya and Bolivia, as well as documenting press trips of Emma Watson, Liz Jones, Jo Wood and Laura Bailey.

Matt Morgan Graphic Designer & Communications Strategist
Matt Morgan set up Fact Studio, a graphic design and branding agency, to champion the power of effective design and communication as a catalyst for change and social good.

Wendy Chapman – Editorial & Project Coordinator
Wendy Chapman has been a Production Manager for over 20 years, working with creatives on successful charity campaigns, including RNIB and British Heart Foundation. She and Safia go back 30 years and recently re-joined forces with ‘Slow Fashion – Aesthetics meets Ethics’ on editorial and production.

Walton Li – Fundraising Coordinator
Walton Li is a start-up specialist and environmentalist whose experience spans across green tech start-up, biofuel energy, conversation and volunteering.

Slow Fashion – Aesthetics Meets Ethics – The Book Launch

Pioneers for sustainability, champagne cocktails and creative giants from the fashion industry – the book launch for Safia Minney’s latest publication, Slow Fashion – Aesthetics Meets Ethics, had it all.

Watch the video below for the highlights and if you feel inspired, we’d love it if you fancy sharing your own thoughts on the book and the slow fashion movement with Safia Minney on Twitter.

What people are saying about ‘Slow Fashion – Aesthetics meets Ethics’

What people are saying about ‘Slow Fashion – Aesthetics meets Ethics’ at the Book Launch in the Duke of Cambridge, Slow Food Mecca of London

23rd March 2016

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80 people gathered at The Duke of Cambridge, the slow food mecca of London to launch ‘Slow Fashion – Aesthetics meets Ethics’, written and creative directed by Safia Minney, MBE, Founder and Director of pioneer ethical fashion brand People Tree.

Published by New Internationalist, Slow Fashion profiles the designers, labels and eco-concept stores across the globe that are taking the lead in providing consumers with a more sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Working with high profile operators in the industry, Safia’s latest book is an incredinbly important part of the huge movement that is sustainable and ethical fashion

The audience of journalists, fashion bloggers, campaigners and contributors sipped on organic Prosecco cocktails whilst Caryn Franklin asked the author questions about the book.

Other speakers included Lucy Siegle, journalist and social justice advocate, who MC’d the event; Mike Gidney, CEO Fairtrade Foundation; John Hillary, Director of War on Want; Jean Lambert, MEP for The Green Party; Romy Fraser OBE, Founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies; Lord Peter Melchett, Director of the Soil Association and Orsola De Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution.

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Slow Fashion reflects Safia’s expertise, intimate and intuitive knowledge of supply chains and her supplies through Fair Trade and her 25 year history of campaigning for ethical business. Slow Fashion brings you the future of the fashion industry. We’ve got something out there: the next tool to get this message out there. We need to get this book out there. We have to fight to get this book on the playing field. Safia, you always have an answer. You are an unstoppable force. I hope we can all pay Safia back by getting this book out there.

Lucy Siegle
Journalist and Social Justice Advocate

Safia brings a radical compassion and a humanitarian approach to everything she does. I’ve had the privilege to work with her for 15 years. She has a remarkably clear eye and focus on turning a mission into ethical business with such dedication. Slow Fashion, her new book, is partly manifesto and partly how to – it’s a must read for all!

 

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Mike Gidney
CEO Fairtrade Foundation

Slow Fashion is definitely a great read and watch, there are films to inspire us, and help us to act. At a political level public pressure is helping to create policy and enforce standard in the garment supply chain – we need to keep up that energy.

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Jean Lambert
MEP

I really recommend reading Slow Fashion. Safia has been fearless in shining the spotlight on what is unacceptable business practice in the fashion industry. She holds up a mirror to unfair trade and shows us that fashion can be fair, ethical and equitable. Few people are able to go the extra mile and put their principals out there like Safia can and Slow Fashion is a testament to that. Slow Fashion is such a rich book, like a delicious plate of slow food!

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John Hilary
Director, War on Want

I am delighted to be here. What an amazing book…

Safia’s understands that cotton comes from the people on farms… The people who started it. It takes horrendous tragedies to get people to pay attention to what happens to the people supplying our clothes. Thousands of people die each year on non-organic cotton farms… the death and illness and destruction that non-organic chemical causes particularly in developing countries.

When I first got involved in the Soil Association, Safia gave me a sense of determination that we are going to change things for the better. It’s a wonderful book.

Peter Melchett
Policy Director, Soil Association

It’s an honor for me to be here. I do feel that I am with friends and have been friends with Safia for 25 years. This is just another exciting episode of Safia’s life – particularly from a retailer’s point of view. As a retailer, you are the interface with the customer. It’s about trust. With Safia, I trust that she knows what she’s doing. She knows the people at the beginning of that chain. We don’t usually know where these products come from – we don’t know the stories. But Safia unravels what’s behind each of those products we buy on a whim. When you featured retailers, that was really exciting to me. There are other retailers there who care.

Romy Fraser
Founder Neal’s Yard Remedies & Trill Farm

Safia and I have both been called pioneers and it seemed so lonely for so long… But tonight we are all here together. The difference between slow fashion and fast fashion is like a one-night stand and a relationship… We want to know the person, who they are, who made them, their taste in things and where they want to go. You want to build on something. Asking the question ‘Who made my clothes?’ call allow you to follow the thread of your jumper back to the person who has woven the cotton. I hope that in the future, we will re-own the [fashion] industry. The supply chain, the fashion industry, can really ignite solutions.

Orsola De Castro
Co-Founder Fashion Revolution

 

Slow Fashion is available to purchase from local bookshops, Amazon and direct from New Internationalist.

Caryn Franklin interviews Safia Minney about her latest book: Slow Fashion – Aesthetics meets Ethics

23rd March 2016

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Caryn: Good evening everyone and lovely to see you. I’m going to be really teasing out information from Safia about her book that you will hopefully all take home with you tonight. It’s a fantastic book because it is packed with knowledge and words from people who have done a small part of the journey with Safia and for helping to bring those voices and an alternative belief system and that’s crucially important because we need a system to believe in or a logistic to engage with in order to shift and in order to change and Safia is doing all of that work and we just have to agree with it!

So just tell us a little bit about the book…

Safia: There has been a staggering shift in the awareness – in civil society in industry, in policy and in the media after the horrific tragedy of the collapse of Rana Plaza. I wanted to really capture this new chapter which has been full of incredible campaigns like Fashion Revolution, ethical brands and stores that have really put pressure on the industry and policy makers to change. Also, as I was developing the European market for People Tree (now celebrating our 25th anniversary since I started the company in Japan). The retail growth of eco concept stores worldwide is amazing. They sell Fair Trade, sustainable and ethical fashion and look completely different to how they looked 10 years ago. Travelling around Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, it’s incredible to see the prolification of ethical brands has led to better quality stores – alongside ethical and vintage fashion, they sell ethical lifestyle products, local art, they have organic cafes and run talks about well-being and social issues. I think the whole fashion industry is changing and we have some of those key people here tonight who have helped shaped that change.

I’m hoping you can download the QR code reader app onto your phone and watch the films. You can actually go into the stores, look around and see the products and meet the people who run them. These people have done a remarkable job of creating stores which are really engaging. And we need more stores like this, so I’m really hoping that we can promote the eco-concept stores near us. Because this is the future of fashion, telling the story of fashion – the story of the producer and the products.

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Caryn: Tell us a little about why you think it’s taking much longer for the fashion industry to embrace slow produce – we’re in one of many organic, slow food pubs in London but why is slow fashion taking longer?

Safia: Clearly fashion product has a shorter product life cycle – a maximum 6 months often to design a product and get it to market – it makes it very expensive in terms of supply chain development – all of the transparency needs to be done and truly sustainable and fair – this takes time to check properly. We’ve come to a place where we have fair trade and ethical systems and standards for cotton like organic cottons and Fair Trade standards for clothing manufacture. There’s a lot of initiatives that show how to improve the supply chain, worker’s rights and environmental protection, compared to 5 to 10 years ago, I don’t think that fashion companies now have any excuse to not engage with delivering sustainability and worker’s rights behind the products they make and retail.

Caryn: How can we now get over the worthiness of Fair Trade issues not having the edgy approach or coolness that people are looking for when it comes to fashion – how can we weave this in that its uncool not to link the worker with the product?

Safia: There’s beautiful, quality products and really desirable fashion that you will buy because you love the product. Clearly ethical fashion is competing on an un-level playing field and there is no real environmental or social cost factored into conventional fashion prices.

That is a genuine challenge for ethical brands as we spend money on developing supply chains, paying fair prices and better environmental practice, results in less money available to spend on marketing. Caryn, how do you think ethical fashion companies can get more for their tiny marketing budgets?

Caryn: What I do know from the work that I’ve done in promotional work with sustainable fashion is that if we can reach these individuals and get them to make a personal decision and unite them. What happens is that people get stuck in a system and they feel disempowered which is why an alternative belief system is crucial. Everyone wants to make a contribution to change. Especially if you work in fashion – we need to contribute to what feels good about being human. I’ve seen you do it say ‘come and help, you know you want to.’ We need to incorporate more ambassadors who can do that on your behalf, invite people to switch, to make changes in their lives on a limited budget so that they feel very engaged with slow fashion and what it is they love about fashion itself and the opportunity for change.

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Safia: It might sound strange, but despite being an owner of People Tree, we ought to be buying less fashion. We ought to be buying more second-hand vintage, up-cycled and when we do buy something new, of course it should be Fair Trade and organic! It’s about people being more conscious about what they buy.

Caryn: Do you have a simple point to leave our audience with tonight?

Safia: I just want to tell you about some of the feedback I got from some of the Fair Trade groups I work with from around the world including Nepal, Bangladesh and India about the Slow Fashion Book.

In Bangladesh they said: “If we have better stores selling our clothing and products, we can empower more women, more people with these orders, we can build schools, we can build clean water facilities, we can start micro credit programs”.

From India: “We want to introduce some of your campaigns in Europe here in India – your book is inspiring to us!”

So really there is just so much excitement from the Fair Trade movement about this book. I really hope to create livelihoods and support people to help themselves, my new book will inspire people to start new stores and to continue to campaign for fairer fashion, I hope.

Slow Fashion is available to purchase from local bookshops, Amazon and direct from New Internationalist.