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

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.