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Your Ethical Fashion Questions for Safia Minney

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Your Ethical Fashion Questions for Safia Minney

During SlaveFreeLent, we asked Safia Minney, CEO and founder of People Tree and leading ethical and sustainable fashion advocate, her top tips for moving towards a Slave-Free* lifestyle. Thank you to every one of you who sent your questions over Whatsapp in March 2020 to Safia to answer.

W

e asked Safia Minney, CEO and founder of People Tree to recommend steps to start living a SlaveFree* lifestyle. We all have steps we can take, remember it doesn't take a few of us living SlaveFree perfectly, but millions of us making a start. We hope this encourages you!


We don't need a handful of people trying to live slave-free* perfectly. We need millions of people making a start.

Over 2,000 of you took part in the 40 day journey to learn more about slavery hidden in our every products and how we can live a SlaveFree* lifestyle, by being more mindful about what we buy, encouraging brands to take steps to reduce the use of slavery in their supply chain, and donating to IJM to stop slavery at source.

Your Ethical Fashion Questions for Safia Minney

Question 1:
"For students and others who can't necessarily afford ethical brands, how can we avoid unethical fashion? What are your recommendations when what's ethical feels out of budget?"

Safia answered: Buying second hand is a great solution, whether you’re on a budget or not. Buying directly from charity shops is more eco-friendly, or buy from Ebay if you’re looking for something affordable, second hand and vintage – it’s great for men, women and kids. I go to boot fares too. Try and organise a clothes-swapping party with your friends at your home, office or where you study too. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness about the true cost of fashion – and have fun!

Run a Clothes Swap or IJM Fashion for Freedom event

IJM cannot endorse brands as being slave-free, but we support brands who are taking steps to reduce slavery in their supply chains.

We recommend using the search app: Good on You to see brands impact on workers, including policies on child labour, forced labour, worker safety, freedom of association and payment of a living wage.

The Good on You app was developed by group of campaigners, fashionistas, scientists, writers and developers, united in seeing fashion become more sustainable and fair, including ending human rights abuses within the industry. We love it! See Good on You's Ethical Children's Brands directory here.

Question 2:
"How do we campaign against exploitative garment factories without then forcing labourers out of work and potentially leaving hundreds jobless and vulnerable?"

Safia answered: Very important question! I think we shop from the brands with the best ethical and FairTrade practice, as sadly, there are still very few of us. Look out for WFTO Fair Trademark, GOTS certification, B Corp. The lack of awareness is the biggest challenge.

Here are a few more ways you can gain more awareness about ethical fashion and the hidden cost of fast fashion:

  • Join the Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Follow Safia on Twitter on Slave to Fashion and REAL Sustainability
  • Organise an event to watch The True Cost movie with friends, and start a discussion on how to protect workers’ rights and the environment. It’s pretty harrowing so allow people time to cry and talk…share information about the topic.
  • Discuss a book on ethical and sustainable fashion with a group of friends

Dig deeper through this documentary on Who Made Your Clothes

Question 3:
"If I want to write to my favourite high street brand to ask them about the slavery in their supply chain (already suspecting the answer is that there is definitely slavery there to some degree) where should I start with my questions, and when the answers can be so varied and the problem is so vast, how can I tell if brands are seriously prioritising the people behind our products?"

Safia answered: Write to your favourite brands to ask what they are doing to eradicate modern slavery. Check their Modern Slavery Statement. Companies are obliged to have a Modern slavery report on their website if they have an annual turnover of £36m. Ask them if they pay a Living wage and guarantee workers Freedom of Association and what they are doing about it? Take courage, be provocative, be tenacious, be the voice of the producers who are often trapped in slavery. Tell them WHY this matters to you in a paragraph. Please don’t stop campaigning – it’s changing everything!

Use IJM’s template here to write to your brands

"Tell brands WHY this matters to you. Don’t stop campaigning – it’s changing everything!"

Write to your brands and ask Who Made Your Clothes, check their Modern Slavery Statement and ask if they pay a living wage.

* IJM cannot endorse brands as being slave-free, but we encourage brands taking steps to reduce the use of forced labour and slavery in their supply chains.

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