‘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.

Click here to invest

Invest Aware
Capital at Risk

Safia Minney, Fairtrade guest speaker at Oxford University’s Wadham College

Join us in Oxford for an inspiring evening

Safia Minney MBE is delighted to announce that she will be guest speaker at Oxford University’s Wadham College for the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition AGM Monday 29 January 2018 6.30pm – 9pm. (share this via twitter here)

Safia will be talking about her experiences of founding a Fair Trade Fashion Company People Tree, author of several books including Slow Fashion and more recently Slave to Fashion, and her current role as Managing Director of an ethical shoe company Po-Zu.

Safia-Minney-Oxford-FairTrade

She will be sharing the challenges she faces as she balances Fair Trade and sustainability principles with commercial reality. Book your free place here via eventbrite.

Why are Fair and Ethical Trade so important in today’s world? What does the future hold for Fair Traders? How do we encourage more people to commit to Fair Trade and change their behaviour as consumers?

Join us as guests of the OXFORD FAIR TRADE COALITION AGM

29 January 2018 . 6.30pm – 9pm
Wadham College
Okinaga Room
Parks Road
Oxford
OX1 3PN
Free event
All welcome
Disabled access at venue
Book your free place here: OxfordFairTradeAGM.eventbrite.co.uk

About Safia:

Safia Minney MBE, FRSA is Managing Director of award winning ethical shoe brand Po-Zu and Founder and Director of People Tree, the pioneering Fair Trade and sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand.

She developed the first organic and Fair Trade clothing supply chain and is recognised by the World Economic Forum as an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur.

A post shared by Safia Minney (@slavetofash) on

Oxford became a Fair Trade City in 2004. This means that the Fairtrade Foundation was satisfied that it had achieved the five criteria required to qualify as a Fairtrade Town (or City).

A local Fairtrade steering group is convened to ensure the Fairtrade Town campaign continues to develop and gain new support. www.oxfairtrade.org.uk

Reflecting on 2017

Thank you for all your support last year!

CS Lewis Quote Jan-18

2017 was a tough year for many…

A year that many of us felt a shift…

A year when many of us felt that through the transition good things could come…in the words of C.S.Lewis:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Slave to Fashion book launch

April 2017, thanks to many of you, saw the launch of my 8th book, Slave to Fashion, on the subject of modern slavery within fashion supply chains, and published by those talented people at New Internationalist.

To find out more about it please read my blog and hear what contributors and reviewers have to say about it. The book has been read by fashion bloggers, industry buyers and ethical consumers alike and was also launched in the US also in Summer 2017.

We still have a VERY long way to go to eradicate modern day slavery and exploitation, partly because it is a systemic problem. Whilst we seem to have made positive progress in 2017, thanks to the great work of professional and government organisations, and indeed us ‘active citizens’ – it feels as if we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

I do find it heartening that finally we are discussing our dysfunctional, bankrupt economic system and how it is failing not only the underprivileged, but the middle and professional classes; the environment, and undermining the chance for peace and democracy.

If ever collaboration, good leadership, education, the enforcement of our international Declarations and Laws were needed, it is NOW.

January 2017, whilst continuing to work on the Board with People Tree (the company I founded in Japan 27 years ago), I joined Po-Zu, the ethical shoe brand, as a consultant and MD.

It has been a hugely interesting and busy journey helping to make the Star Wars / LucasFilm collaboration a success. Setting up an ethical supply chain in Sri Lanka, and working on sales and marketing, operations and the collections to make Po-Zu THE go-to ethical footwear brand.

Po-Zu Crowdcube Sven Segal, Founder and CEO & Safia Minney, Managing Director from Sven Segal on Vimeo.

And of course, for me, during 2017 it has been a pleasure to be part of the global social enterprise community, working internationally with some of the leading universities, companies and networks to mainstream a new thinking about ethical business practice and sustainable living.

A huge thank you to you all – and hoping that 2018 is the happiest and most fulfilling year yet for you 🙂

UPDATE: Safia is honoured to be guest speaker at two events in January 2018

1) FASHIONSVP Tuesday 16 January at Olympia London – Register Now to ensure your place

11.00 – 11.40: “Sustainable sourcing: fresh challenges, new opportunities”
How sustainable production can be a competitive advantage for your business
Getting buy-in on a sustainable business model from your directors and your team
Tamsin Lejeune, CEO, Ethical Fashion Group and CO moderating the discussion and debate with Safia Minney MBE, Co-founder, People Tree, Oya Barlas Bingül, Development Manager, Lenzing Group, Eric Roosen, CEO, StarSock – Healthy Seas Initiative, Senior speaker invited from Patagonia Europe

2) OXFORD UNIVERSITY Monday 29 January 2018 6.30pm – 9pm Wadham College for the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition AGM Monday . FULL DETAILS HERE: Ethical Agenda Blog Post

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

Resolutions for 2018

Safia writes: When asked to share advice and suggestions for a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ – I’m keeping it simple – so 2018’s resolution plan for us all should cover HEALTH, Conscious consuming and SLOW LIVING.

CONSUME Consciously

I am tired with being part of a bankrupt economic system that doesn’t reflect the true cost of our natural environment and the rights of people and animals.

As ‘standard’ I only buy from ethical pioneers. It’s easier for larger companies or second generation businesses to follow once the market has been developed and the best practice set for supply chain and the business case proven. But the ethical pioneers are nimble and continue to innovate and set the agenda – and for that they need our support and greater access to funding for R&D and investment on more ethical terms to expand their distribution and scale operations.

I expect regular consumers in the fast fashion stores will switch and buy from their “Conscious collections”, but I feel the ethical consumer’s role is to keep redefining and pushing for better and more sustainable products and solutions – and some of these can only be brought about by passionate and agile social entrepreneurs.
I’d urge people to support pioneer social enterprises like People Tree, Po-Zu, Riverford organics, Ecotricity and buy from local initiatives too – also charity shops and local organic farms.

logo labourbehindthelabelWe can also effect great change beyond ethical consumption by joining campaigning groups like: Labour Behind the Label, Greenpeace, Fashion Revolution and learn from key influencers in this arena on twitter and instagram – join me on twitter (Safia Minney here) and you will find loads of information and links to sustainability news that inspire and are full of useful ways to be part of the solution. Share this information through your social media. The space is changing fast and we play a vital role in amplifying and forming it.

I think the financial system needs a huge overhaul too. Ethical investment is taking off as we decide we want to use our money to disrupt the system and promote social justice and sustainability. Many people are deciding either NOT to buy more ‘stuff’ but to invest ethically or only too buy stuff that is ethically made.

Join Triodos Bank, Shared Interest and seek out ethical investments like Po-Zu on CrowdCube and be part of the Shoe Revolution and help the ethical footwear brand go global. CROWDCUBE PO-ZU.

The principals of Fair Trade, (working in partnership and towards paying a living wage and promoting social justice) is a concern I increasingly feel at ‘home’ in the UK. Whether it’s underpaid workers in those chemically toxic nail bars or what seems to be a growing shadow economy. On resolution, after having down-loaded the Uber app after years of boycotting them ( I used my local taxi company who felt like part of my extended family until I recently moved to a new end of town) is to use their new “tip” function to add an extra few ££s tip as the drivers tell me that this goes to them and it’s a small way to bring their low wages up. Although far from ideal. Of course Uber should pay them decently and Uber should take less commission as at 25% commission, this means that drivers struggle to make ends meet.

HEALTH

Do you ever fancy a ‘duvet day’? {yes, even Managing Directors have slow days } – I skip into my “out-door slippers” Po-Zu warm and comfy boots which makes the transition between bed and office less brutal in winter.

I’ll be adding pumping weights to my yoga routines and hoping that this will keep my energy levels up!

SLOW LIVING

logo renttherunwayDon’t buy new stuff unless you have to – and if you do please buy ethically or rent it. See rent the runway.

Mend your clothes and be proud of the repair.  Swap ’til you drop and don’t be afraid to fix things with Sugru glue and upcycle those old dining room chairs.

Get crafty – Make a mobile with the shells that you collected on the beach in Summer for someone special, pass on stuff that you don’t need and other people can use. There’s so many great ways of doing this and you make great new friends too and strengthen your community and network.

Make and take in your own lunches, or look out for Food Waste champions such as OLIO and TooGoodToGo. These are free apps connecting neighbourhoods and local cafes so surplus food can be shared.

logo greenpeaceInvest in a reusable bottle – 16 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the UK. Many of them end up in our oceans – killing marine life and threatening fragile ecosystems. We need to take action to stem the flow of plastic into our oceans. Greenpeace have a petition here to show your support for deposit return schemes across the UK.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and conscious 2018. Hope to meet you one day.

Find Safia on twitter here and SlavetoFash
Find Safia on instagram and SlavetoFash here.

Guest Post – Slowing Down, A Woodland Gathering

🍂Slowing Down🍂

Guest post from Laurie, A Woodland Gathering:

Laurie writes: After years of living in constant fear in a fast-paced world I became consumed by anxiety and OCD. Slowing down my pace of life and being mindful of the world around me has massively helped in my journey to getting better.

awoodlandgathering flowersAt the peak of my illness, I lost my job, I became unable to socialise and was housebound almost completely. Determined not to give up for the sake of my family and myself I turned to my creativity and started selling some of my handmade clothing and dolls on Etsy.

Having already had an interest in the slow fashion movement and following on from a pledge I’d taken to myself three years earlier ‘not to buy from fast fashion brands‘. I decided to turn my hobbies into a small business making linen (Oeko-Tex certified) clothing exclusively to order.

I wanted to provide versatile products that can be dressed up or down and can be used in a capsule wardrobe. I chose linen for many reasons, one, because of its natural beauty, two, it ages very well and is a tough material that can withstand the test of time, to name a few. To try to eliminate the amount of waste fabric, I create dolls from the clothing scraps. (Which is how I came to be writing this guest post. One of my dolls was featured on DollMakers instagram feed – inspired by Safia Minney – I created a doll in her likeness for International Women’s Day – see below.)

I feel my mental health has improved tremendously since starting this business.
I have a lot still to learn and hopefully a long way still to go but I am enjoying the ‘slow’ journey. I hope to always maintain an ethical and responsible standpoint with my business.

If you are reading this, and you’ve not yet read Slave to Fashion – go now and buy a copy, it’s a fascinating read. I’m going to find it so helpful… being in the early stages of my brand I want to ensure that every decision I make is thoughtful and responsible. I’m sure I will use this as a business bible for years to come. Such an important issue that consumers need to stop ignoring.

Laurie, A Woodland Gathering.

Safia Minney made by @awoodlandgathering (before @woodlandsisterdolls) for the Women’s Day project: #beboldmakedolls • “I chose to create a doll inspired by @safia_minney who is the founder of @peopletreeuk the pioneering fair trade and sustainable fashion brand. She developed the first organic and fair trade clothing supply chain and is recognised by the @worldeconomicforum as an outstanding social entrepreneur. She initiated World Fair Trade Day and Rag Rage and is a founder member of the @ethicalfashionforum @fash_rev and @strawberryearth which promotes eco design. • Safia’s pioneering work over 25 years had brought sustainable livelihoods and social welfare to over 5000 economically marginalised farmers, artisans and tailors in the developing world. If you have Netflix and are interested in learning more about the damage that fast fashion is having on our environment and fellow citizens of the world you should watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’.”

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Sourcing an ethical shoe supply chain for Po-Zu

Join the Shoe Revolution

It’s a delight to put your experience to the TEST in a completely new product sector – this time for shoes rather than clothes and organic foods….

In January 2017, I started working as Managing Director with Po-Zu’s wonderful founder Sven Segal.  Before long, I was learning about the basics of shoe making and visiting factories in Portugal, developing the communications and the branding to show people how their shoes are made.

Safia Minney QUOTEBoth the heritage shoe collection and the Star Wars collaboration have had fabulous feedback at various trade shows across Europe, and we’ve found that mixing geeks into the process is really fun and a healthy cross-over: everyone wants ethical shoes with great design and at the right price points.

I started my research through my Fair Trade network and contacts in Asia and found a way of putting together an ethical shoe supply chain that uses Fair Rubber, organic cotton and a factory that is open to committing to producing quality shoes and improving its ethical standards.

We are very excited by the significant growth opportunity the Sri Lanka ethical footwear line brings to the company in terms of cost reduction, improvement in margin, and the impact this will provide to develop a successful wholesale business internationally.

Sri Lanka has recently enjoyed peace after years of internal conflict, and the island is as beautiful as the smiles of the people. I hope that you will help me to share this Crowd Cube link and raise funds to expand our ethical line and help me transform Po-Zu into the go-to Ethical footwear brand.

Read more here: https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/po-zu-1/pitches/lePweq

Read more here: https://po-zu.com/pages/invest

And follow me on LinkedIn here

Black Friday, or ‘Buy Nothing’ Day

Whilst running  Ethical and Fair Trade businesses over the last two decades, events such as a SALE or BLACK FRIDAY and CYBER MONDAY always fill me with gloom…and if I’m honest, irritation.

po-zu_black-friday

Why, you may ask?

Well, this is because the present economic system is utterly dysfunctional, corrupt and largely bankrupt and as a result conventional companies and their customers already enjoy vastly subsidised goods and services – as they are largely made without reflecting the true cost in terms of fair wage for workers and rarely treat the environment as a limited resource.

A post shared by Safia Minney (@slavetofash) on


On the other hand, ethical businesses strive to pay these costs AND compete against sweatshop and highly polluting product – and are then expected to  discount their prices too? They barely manage to make a profit as it is.  This is NOT because they are badly run by ‘do-gooder hippies’ who don’t understand design, finance or the economies of scale; this is because they compete in an un-level playing field and don’t have the budgets of big business to ‘buy cool’ celebrities or bill boards and advertising, because they haven’t amassed huge funds from Modern Slavery and tax havens etc.

That social and ethical businesses have no support in the form of tax incentives, R&D support and with little subsidy to slow capital is shocking and immoral.

Sure, there’s the odd prize and acknowledgment here and there – but it’s not enough to turbo charge the shift to sustainable business practice, education and a sustainable economy.

Resisting the temptation of huge offers on Black Friday is tough. Here’s some options:

You could only buy sustainable, ethical or local products.
You could buy that expensive discounted wallpaper but then send an email to the company asking them about their ethics, why FSC certification is not on their website? for example.
You could Make and Mend in rebellion to the whole thing.
OR….
you could BUY NOTHING and invest in sustainable business –
– like Po-Zu. {https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/po-zu-1/pitches/lePweq}

Capital At Risk

Interestingly Patagonia’s ‘DON’T BUY THIS JACKET’ Ad in the New York Times generated huge sales of the same jacket.

Their “All sales today goes to sustainable charities” on Black Friday last year generated $10 million dollars towards sustainability whilst the company continues to improve its manufacture of products in terms of climate, sustainability and a fairer deal for workers..and importantly customer education.  We need large companies to follow their lead; we urgently need to support ethical businesses and we desperately need to exercise our power as citizens on Black Friday.

WATCH: The True Cost Movie
READ: Slave to Fashion
INVEST: In Ethical Businesses

Interview with Fashion commentator & campaigner, Caryn Franklin

The Ethical Agenda is a blog/ online magazine about ethical business, ethical living and ethical thinking with interviews with people doing amazing things to set the agenda for a sustainable way of being…

Safia opens THE ETHICAL AGENDA with an interview with Fashion commentator & campaigner, Caryn Franklin.

Caryn-Franklin-wears-Po-Zu-shoes-SWHow does fashion have to change to become more humane and ethical? Is it about brands, consumers, government or media taking the initiative?

I have chosen to work with the next generation of young creatives to empower them to challenge old systems and find new answers. There are many amazing educators out there that believe as I do that we can encourage emerging designers, journalists, art directors, PRs, image-makers etc, to channel their own anger and frustration at what we have now, into an authentic force for positive change. We all need passion in our lives and it’s these emotions that drive us to act. What I say to my students is don’t suppress it, express it look at how you can contribute even by bringing about the tiniest shift in another’s attitude. I’m always learning too and I really understand that finding the courage to speak, is a very hard step for some. But when you love an industry you can see its faults too and helping to make our industry better is my mission. I call myself a Disruptive Fashion Lover!

Why have you chosen to focus on body image and psychological well being?

The fashion industry is a powerful taste leadership energy in people’s lives, and with the ability to influence comes with accountability. Fashion must acknowledge that the promotion of unachievable body ideals and lack of appearance diversity is not good for the mental health of girls and women and increasingly boys and men. Studies show that we engage in social comparison to elevate our sense of self but if we feel our body type or appearance is not measuring up to idealized fashion imagery then this affects our perception of ourselves in a negative way.

Caryn-Franklin-with-Safia-Minney-Po-Zu-MD-SWIn short… thin white models should not be the only type of appearance promotion, there are many visions for humanity and many others that deserve visibility too. In seeing them celebrated, we become more visible too. There are incentives for companies to engage with a broader spectrum of appearance. Diverse models can enhance the bond that the consumer will make with the model in the sales appeal and studies show this leads to increased intention to purchase by 300%.

The routine sexualisation of women in imagery is also problematic. This normalizes consumption of femininity as sexually available and objectified. Studies show we de-personalise both men and women who are sexually objectified in imagery. This has very negative effects on gender perception but also very negative outcomes for women who are far more frequently objectified in our media whether it be as a passive and perfected exterior, a coathanger for fashion or a sexualized fembot. Women who internalize these messages for their own femininity, also are more likely to go on to self-objectify. This does huge damage to self- esteem and can lead to depression and self-harm. I’ve been able to work with organisations such as The Women’s Equality Party, The Advertising Standards Authority, Graduate Fashion Week, The Age of No Retirement and many others to help disrupt thinking and belief systems.

3. How do we bring about the reduced rate of consumption?

I think many women and increasingly men, are trapped in a cycle of medicating low self-esteem with quick fix clothing buys. I say this because I link the proliferation of false realities in advertising, (dependent upon the unachievable body ideal and the perfected self) to rising rates of body image dissatisfaction and low self worth. To my mind, we have to address the way the repetition and ubiquity of these images can influence mental health. I studied an MSc in applied psychology, to be able to find the studies to make these claims and I feel very strongly that we must begin to break the hold fashion has on the viewer’s perception of self.

Caryn-Franklin-wears-Po-Zu-shoes-seated-SW

This can be done through realistic casting, diverse appearance ideals in race, size and age, body difference and of course disruption of gender norms. This is something I encourage my students to investigate. Creating a situation where we want to buy better quality and therefore less because we want to celebrate ourselves as individuals rather than clamouring to belong to a short lived trend that keeps on changing, could mean we begin to feel really good about ourselves as authentic beings. And this means choosing clothes to express who we are not who fashion thinks we should be. Studies show that our clothing can effect our cognitions – in other words what we are wearing affects how we feel as well as how we process information. It’s early days but I do feel excited by the things I am learning through psychology research.

4. Can you tell us about projects that you are working on and what impact you are expecting this to have? Is collaboration important?

I have just come out of a very tiring few weeks and I am hopeful that the cultural shift that we are currently observing will have long lasting impact. No one can have missed the debate around sexual assault in the workplace and the accusations about Harvey Weinstein that led to his immediate dismissal. I decided to use this film producer’s behaviour as a reason to re-visit protests I have made over the years, about fashion photographer Terry Richardson – also a predator. I wrote a piece for Refinery29 about my attempts to speak out and stop him from working with young women (this included writing for national press and giving an interview on Channel 4 news back in 2013 as well as continued initiatives through out the years). A few days after the Refinery 29 piece, the Sunday Times quoted me in their feature and in a very short space of time, brands were distancing themselves from him. I’ve made it sound very simple and it hasn’t been…I only started being vocal in 2013 after reading about him but other women and industry voices have been protesting for much longer. I’ve never written so many pieces this last week or given so many interviews. I’ve been glued to my social networking platforms because everyone wanted information and quotes. I’ve just done quite a few back-to-back 18 hour days spent in my PJs because as soon as I got up it started all over again! It’s been a revelation that this time round everything changed when this man had previously seemed untouchable. But that in itself has also been a wonderful education. Keep speaking out don’t let it drop!

5. Can you share with us the one positive phrase/ inspiring words or vision that keeps you motivated and moving the agenda forward?

Psychologist Hamira Riaz recently wrote “I used to keep a lot to myself, expressing opinions brings the risk of being judged. However, such reticence born of fear is the ultimate betrayal of one’s ability to affect change,” This really resonated with me. Perhaps everyone is waiting for some very big powerful initiatives to create change when all the time they could be actively involved by using their voice. I just try and use my voice is all – sometimes it leads to a shift.

6. What are you wearing in these lovely photographs we took of you and why did you choose the Stormtrooper boots? Aren’t they the bad guys? 😉

Love those boots so comfortable and sleek.

I am wearing them with a second hand laser-cut skirt from my local store Kensal Vintage and a wonderful sample garment jacket from Ada Zanditon.

Caryn-Franklin-wears-Po-Zu-SW

I am enjoying what I am wearing because every garment embraces sustainability. It makes me feel nice to think about clothes this way.

2. Which book is a ‘must read’ to help understand the issues in your field?

One of my favourite books recently has been Dorothy Rowe’s Beyond Fear. As a noted psychologist Rowe explains how, when we begin to observe the stories we tell ourselves, we can move beyond the fear we all feel about life, unknown outcomes, death and humiliation. Well you asked!!! I really recommend it she’s a brilliant writer.

To find our more about franklinonfashion.com click here

Follow Caryn on twitter: @caryn_franklin

Follow Caryn on instagram: @franklinonfashion

Caryn wears: Po-Zu.com Stormtrooper boots, chrome-free leather

Safia wears: Po-Zu.com ethical sneakers, organic cotton

Frequently asked questions – Safia Minney

Safia is often asked MANY questions about why she made the decision to make a career working within, and speaking publicly about fair trade and sustainable fashion, and eradicating modern slavery in the fashion industry. Here’s a few of those questions – and Safia’s thoughts in reply.

Safia MinneySafia Minney, Founder of People Tree, Managing Director of Po-Zu sustainable footwear. Author: Naked Fashion, Slow Fashion and Slave to Fashion.

Speaker agent: Gordon Poole Ltd

1) Safia, what made you decide to make a business from selling ethical and sustainable clothing?

I am simply an ethical consumer. I didn’t want my money to be spent with companies that don’t respect the workers that make their products and the environment. I realised that I would have to design products myself to get products that met high standards. That’s how People Tree started –  we had to construct some of the first Fair Trade and organic supply chains in the world for clothing and foods.

Safia-Minney-Cotton-Farmers

2) How difficult/easy was it to find ethical manufacturers/suppliers?

I asked suppliers and Fair Trade groups how important women’s rights and the environment are to them. I would set up a new product with them, and we would work hard to design, sample and market-test it. Through that process I could see how sincere and capable the suppliers were.

It wasn’t difficult to find groups that share the same values, but helping them make good quality products when they needed help in so many ways: training in the design process and product development, in pattern-cutting and quality control management, and help with production and financial planning as well as  building infrastructure, processes and procuring environmentally friendly materials in rural areas which is very very challenging. Also, you have to sustain orders. It’s a long- term partnership that helps achieve great things, not one-off orders.

3) Why do you think that some people have the impression that ethical and sustainable clothing is expensive?

Because fast fashion doesn’t cover the true costs: The social costs and environmental costs. Also, ethical brands haven’t reached the scale to make distribution costs really cheap because they don’t use slave labour to build up their businesses.

I always wanted ethical fashion to be “democratic” and affordable. People connect directly with the makers of what they consume. We started small-scale. That’s not very cost effective, but we always kept the prices at People Tree affordable and in-line with mid-market brands. So there’s no excuse not to be able to afford fair trade fashion.

Why Po-Zu Footwear shoes are perceived as expensive?

Our ethically and sustainably made Po-Zu shoes come at a cost (when compared with non-ethical mainstream brands) which we think is not just reasonable, but totally justifiable.
For those who are not aware of this issue, we highly recommend watching The True Cost movie which highlights the reason why most clothing items are in fact too cheap. And of course, reading my book Slave To Fashion published by New Internationalist.
Further information concerning ethical issues more specifically to the shoe industry can be found at the Better Shoes Foundation website. @BetterShoes_F on twitter –  http://www.bettershoes.org/

Safia Minney Slave to Fashion

4) How do you keep a good relationship with the suppliers to ensure that the quality of the working environment is up to standard?

We have bi-annual reviews that are monitored by The World Fair Trade Organisation. The Soil Association monitor organic standards for cotton and many of the food farmers. We also visit the groups regularly and work together with them to invest in better buildings, ventilation, water waste management systems and the kind of things that make life healthier where products are produced. We go way down the supply chain too to try to make the best job we can at influencing suppliers to do better. We invest in upgrading skills, and market exposure programmes.

5) Why is hand craftsmanship an important element within People Tree?

It provides more jobs and livelihoods in rural areas for women. That’s the point. Women with families need decent work and a chance to earn whilst looking after their children. People Tree hand knitting, hand weaving, hand embroidery and hand printing provides work for two thirds of the people who make for the company, even though it only accounts for one third of the product sales. I love hand craft skills. They revive traditional skills and celebrate the incredible ancient agriculture and textile heritage of our worlds.

6) Why do you think that most UK high street fashion brands do not follow the same ethics as People Tree?

They are beginning to emulate some aspects. Using organic cotton for example is great. Some progressive brands are starting to look at worker rights through their obligations to eradicate modern slavery.

Some are beginning to phase out the worst types of environmental production techniques.

The problem is that laws need to be properly enforced and business CEOs and Directors held accountable.

7) Why do you think that the general public are only starting to become aware of the severity of modern slavery in garment factories in the last 10 or so years?

I think many of us have been aware for years. Campaigning groups, media makers and ethical fashion brands have done a great job of raising awareness and the government has done little to lead in most countries.

A post shared by Safia Minney (@slavetofash) on

The True Cost movie, Fashion Revolution and many books on the issues have helped get people angry and forcing change. So much is changing now. It’s cool to care. The problem is – is it quick enough and can we change things fast enough? We need collaboration on a huge scale and for business, consumers, govts of every nation and campaigning groups to work to reform business, financial and legislative systems as we know them.

8) Do you feel that UK fast fashion brands use sustainable and ethical fashion as a marketing strategy, therefore not taking these major problems seriously?

I think some are trying hard to revamp their out-dated ways of producing clothes and doing business. I’m hoping that they will share best practice more and more through many new initiatives and through the Ethical Trading Initiative and HULT. We have some very serious problems and very little time to solve them.

I wish that we hadn’t spent 10-20 years with what was generally a load of old ‘greenwash’ wasting time in grappling with the key issues: over production, over consumption, waste and prices so low as to result in a throw away culture that undermines workers’ rights, our planet’s resources and ecosystem and in many cases our physiological well-being.

9) Why do you think that some UK high street fast fashion brands do not take modern slavery in garment factories seriously?

They are beginning to now that the UK Modern Slavery Act requires them to declare what they are doing to eradicate slavery if they are a company of £36million turnover of more. Consumers need to be more demanding and not buy from brands that they don’t trust.

10. Prior to publishing your book ‘Slave to Fashion’, you wrote about SLOW Fashion – what drove you to write the ‘Slow Fashion’ book?

We used to say that clothes made by hand in this way weren’t well designed –  now they are. The Aesthetics are good.

And that the shops retailing fair and sustainable fashion were ugly – this is no longer true.

We have many strong ethical brands and gorgeous eco-concept stores around the world. The book “Slow Fashion” features this, with interviews about the key influencers. I used to get so fed up with people using aesthetics as an excuse not to buy responsibly – it really used to make me mad! How can any new product innovation improve without customer support? This is especially unfair when fair fashion competes in the same market with fast fashion often produced by modern slaves.

I wrote “Slow Fashion” because over the last 20 years I have seen cotton grown organically and the care the farmers put in to manage the pests and improve soil fertility and the huge benefits this has to the environment, their incomes and promoting organic foods and health locally and their incomes.

Making fabrics and clothes manually, like hand-weaving fabric, hand embroidery and hand knitting, we create beautiful clothing, in a carbon neutral way, (no energy used except for people-power) and maximise the livelihoods created through this in rural areas. I believe that fashion can be a powerful tool for rural development and help women. We need fashion made like this to become the “fair trade gold label”.

11) What kind of problems do you face when you stock only ethical and sustainable fashion and accessories?

It’s hard work being a 100 percent dedicated ethical fashion company.

You don’t make compromises with workers’ rights or using sustainable materials. In fact you keep setting the bar higher and higher. You try to run faster that the best and set the agenda in your industry. It’s hard, but fun, working with other dedicated change makers – who love design and great products as much as people and our wonderful planet. You have to bring your customers on the journey with you. That’s part of the work that I really enjoy too.

Transcript of interview with Katie Edwards. Summer 2017.

Safia Minney, Founder of People Tree, Managing Director of Po-Zu sustainable footwear. Author: Naked Fashion, Slow Fashion and Slave to Fashion.

To book Safia for public speaking engagements, please contact her agent: Gordon Poole Ltd

Buy the books:
“Slow Fashion” – here in the UK, here in the US
“Slave to Fashion” – here in the UK, here in the US

Follow Safia on twitter twitter.com/safiaminney

and Instagram too.