Safia Minney is the founder of ethical clothing company People Tree, ethical shoe company Po-Zu, and also consultant and author of several popular ethical fashion books (see details below). Safia also contributed to the fair fashion documentary True Cost by Livia Firth which is a must-see. We asked Safia our 4 important questions which we ask every female expert in this 7-days series during Fashion Revolution.
NAME: Safia Minney, MBE
PROFESSION: Founder, People Tree: Managing Director, Po-Zu ethical shoes, Author of Naked Fashion, Slow Fashion and Slave to Fashion.
FAVORITE CITY: London
FAVORITE HOT SPOT: A village in Bangladesh
3 ITEMS IN MY HANDBAG: A reusable bag, a pair of organic cotton Po-Zu sneakers, a make up bag of Body Shop
I NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT: The above, passport, phone, organic cotton undies and People Tree dresses & leggings
ROLE MODEL: Not really – striving to be a better version of myself – maybe David Attenborough in being a more effective campaigner the older I get 🙂
It is shocking that Trade, business and finance today ignores human rights and sustainability – so I guess, anger at a sense of injustice motivates me too.
1. What inspires and motivates you to do what you do?
Safia: What inspires me to do what I do is the common sense of sustainable fashion and living. Even when I was originally deciding which Fair Trade groups and social enterprises People Tree should partner with, I prioritized those that had environmental awareness and sustainability and womens’ rights central to what they do. It is shocking that Trade, business and finance today ignores human rights and sustainability – so I guess, anger at a sense of injustice motivates me too. People who have inspired me are the people in the field working at grassroots level and making a difference to the lives of the most economically marginalised people and pioneering environmental projects and industries that prove that this can be mainstream. It is only our lack of will, our lack of creativity and imagination that holds us back from doing the right thing. Every morning I jump out of bed, excited to work with my lovely team of change- makers and our growing community.
2. One thing you would like to change in the politics regarding the fashion industry?
Safia: Environmental and human rights laws must be ENFORCEABLE. At the moment, best practice is not rewarded – paying the true cost for labour and the labour is rare, not the norm. The market economy is dysfunctional and ethical consumers and ethical brands and companies are doing their bit to change this, but it’s very difficult to scale in this environment. The UK Modern Slavery Act is a great start and there are strong systems following to help people trapped in human trafficking and forced and bonded labour in the UK, but much more needs to be done to eradicate modern slavery in our fashion garment industry. We need a “#me Too” campaign that liberated women from the disgusting and pervasive sexual harassment that they face each day in their factories. Consumers can help by being political in deciding to buy only best practice from the companies and brands that show transparency, prove that they have a dialogue with their workers and have health, safety and fair pay central to what they do. The financial tools are totally out of date and social impact funds should be available for social businesses for the pioneers like People Tree, Po-Zu , etc. to allow that them to scale-up their businesses, impact and go global.
3. What do you say to girls and women who say: “Fair Fashion is not sexy or I don’t know where to shop ethical fashion or I can not afford it!“ ?
Safia: That’s not true today. Look at the brands out there – there are style options for everyone. And you can always rent too on Wear the Walk or others popping up here and there or go buy vintage and second-hand. I think if you want to buy NEW you should really try to buy ethical and natural materials. Climate change and ocean death by plastics is upon us – has there ever been a more urgent call to action? We should stop allowing ourselves to be amused to death…slow down and THINK!
4. How do you see the future of the fashion industry?
Safia: There is no future for the fashion industry without a planet.
Visit Safia Minney´s personal website, here.