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

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Capital at Risk

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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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.


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.

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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.
you could BUY NOTHING and invest in sustainable business –
– like Po-Zu. {}

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

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.


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 –

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.

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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

and Instagram too.

Jaz O’Hara Founder of The Worldwide Tribe in conversation

Safia Minney chats with Jaz O’Hara, founder of
A humanitarian organisation supporting refugees.

1. You organisation does amazing work on the ground and raising awareness of refugees – how do you split your time? Which has been the most effect campaign to date? (Jaz, love your videos, which is your favourite and why?)

Splitting my time can be tricky; it’s a lot of juggling. In my opinion, raising awareness is so important so I give a lot of talks about the refugee crisis and my experiences in schools and universities… but then I don’t like to be talking about our work on the ground, more than being on the ground. For this reason I try to also spend as much time as possible in camps, meeting people and understating the needs.

logo_theworldwidetribeIn terms of campaigns, our aim is to reach those not already ‘on side.’ The people who don’t already know much about the refugee crisis or support refugees. The people outside of our echo chamber. We do this by tapping into popular culture. For example, in the summer of 2016, when Pokemon Go was sweeping across the world, we took the game to the refugee camp we were working in in Northern France, the Jungle and made a short film. The film had the tag line:

“If Pokemon can cross borders…why can’t a refugee?”

The intention was to reach people engaged with the game and encourage them to start thinking about the crisis we are in the midst of here in Europe. The film was short and shareable, uplifting and positive. We always aim to inspire with our content and never paint anyone out to be a victim, only a hero.

2. Should we be focussing on the causes that force people to flee their homes as well as their resettling – which are the most effective ways of doing this – how can the public support these initiatives? Are there any important pieces of government regulation that need to change to stabilise the home regions and make it possible for people to stay in their homes?

Absolutely I would say it’s super important to look at the cause of these problems and trace them back to the source. If we could avoid there being any refugees in the first place… that would be the best possible solution.

None of these people want to leave their homes so if there would be any way for them to stay, I would always advocate that, but we are not talking about one issue here, we work with people fleeing the world’s worst atrocities… from a genocide in Sudan, to compulsory military service and a totalitarian regime in Eritrea, to the war in Syria. Stabilising these home regions is no easy task and not one we pretend to know how to tackle

What we do know though, is what we have seen and experienced once people leave. The crazy conditions of the camps. The lack of dignity and respect. Right on our doorstep. This is what we can tackle.
We also focus on awareness and education. I believe that changing mindsets and increasing understanding of the situation both in camps and in the home countries of the people we work with, is a huge catalyst towards positive change.

3. How do you keep positive and keep your energy levels up?

Burn out is very real in this industry. People get so emotionally involved in this work that it’s hard to think about anything else, ever. I am guilty of this. But unless you look after yourself, you are useless to anyone else, and this realisation led me to create more balance in my life.

At first it was hard for me to relax and enjoy myself, knowing what I now know and having seen what I had seen. Christmas 2015 was a struggle as many people that I had made very good friends with were suffering in the freezing cold of the Jungle camp in Calais, whilst I was celebrating with my family. It just didn’t seem right. I felt guilty. But I have since learnt to deal with these emotions much better through taking time for things like meditation and yoga…the things I need to keep me going. These things enable me to keep working and I know that the more effective I am, the more impact my work can have on the ground.

4. What drove you to set up your organisation and how can we help support your work?

An update on CalaisThe Worldwide Tribe was born organically from a Facebook post I wrote about my first visit to the Jungle Camp in Calais. It was a personal, raw and emotional post that went viral and sparked a HUGE response. Very soon after I quit my job in ethical fashion to focus 110% on the humanitarian crisis on our doorstep. I just couldn’t think about anything else..!

There are many ways to support our work. You can donate, volunteer or fundraise, but you can also simply read and share our posts. Educating yourself, growing your own understanding and joining the tribe. This is the most important think really. All the details are on our website

We update our social media daily too so check out our Facebook:

Instagram: @theworldwidetribe

5. Why is ethical fashion important to you and whose your style icon?

Ethical Fashion has always been important to me. Before setting up the Worldwide Tribe I worked for an Ethical Underwear brand, producing Fair Trade, organic cotton underwear in India. Working closely alongside cotton farmers in rural India, I spent a lot of time really understanding our supply chain. Those three years working between India and London were very insightful, special and transformational for me and brought me to where I am today. Fashion is a huge, powerful industry with the ability to power incredible change. My style icons are still the ladies working in those cotton fields. The way they wear colour brings me so much happiness that I don’t understand why the world doesn’t look to them for inspiration!

To find our more about click here

Jaz wears: ethical sneakers, organic cotton

WIN a fair trade Tshirt, and Duffle Bag from Slave to Fashion


Modern Slavery in fashion… How do we eradicate it? We can start by TALKING about it – and here at the ‘Slave To Fashion’ project, led by founder of People Tree and Managing Director of Po-Zu, @Safia_Minney, we want to hear from you.

Slave to Fashion Tshirt and Bag giveawayTag a friend, and tell us in eight words (or more!), why Slavery is wrong – And be in with a chance to win a ‘Slave to  Fashion’ Fair trade Tshirt and Jute Duffle Bag- to assist you in spreading the word further –  you may select from either a black bag, or a magenta bag – see them here:

Freeset Jute bags are manufactured in fair trade conditions. All workers are paid fair wages and have healthy working conditions. And the most important thing of all – each Bag is sewn by the talented Freeset seamstresses and represents another step on their journey to freedom.

Slave to Fashion Tees are made by with Continental Clothing Co. wholesale, a pioneering company, that strives to pay workers a living wage.

All the fabrics are knitted at their in-house facilities, and dyed with GOTS approved chemicals, using low-water and controlled waste discharge processes, certified to OekoTex 100 Class I standard and conforming to REACH.

Organic certified fabrics are dyed in our zero-discharge dyehouse, where all the water is recycled in a closed-loop system.

Prize Draw Terms and Conditions

  1. Follow @slavetofash on instagram
  2. Tag a friend on the instagram post dated 13/07/2017
  3. In eight words or more, tell us why slavery is wrong.
  4. Open to UK entries only.

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 Safia’s daughter, Natalie Minney.

Useful links: 

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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

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.

Useful links: 

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Follow us on twitter

Buy the Slave to Fashion book here in the UK  *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.