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.

Useful links: 

Follow us on instagram http://www.instagram.com/SlavetoFash

Follow us on twitter http://www.twitter.com/SlavetoFash

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.