Safia Minney with People Tree catalogues. TOP:
KTS scarf and top. Pink hand-spun scarf by the indigenous people
in the Peruvian Sierra, £28; with matching lose-knit sleeveless
gilet £35. ABOVE LEFT: From
the first People Tree fashion show in the UK. ABOVE
RIGHT: 'Little Red Dog' volunteer model, in organic cotton undies
often deserves the bad rap it gets from critics. At its worst, it
reflects the consumerism of the 1950s' American automakers: incremental
but hard-sold changes that mean little except to a few people within
the industry. It attracts the attention of news media wanting a
story on sweatshop manufacture (and in the recently dismissed case
of Nike v. Kasky, they got one).
A few have begun turning this around. It may be
particularly fashionable today to become ecologically conscious
and to do something for public policy as brands try to find new
ways of creating consumer attention. But conscience was what motivated
Safia Minney, the founder of Global Village and its People Tree
fashion brand, to begin one of the world's first Fair Trade fashion
The daughter of an Indian Mauritian father and
a Swiss mother, Minney realized that fair trade changed communities.
Seeing the difficulties in rural communities in third-world countries,
she knew those in the first and second worlds were privileged--and
in a position to help. 'It's very difficult when you've got a baby
on your breast to turn down a beggar woman with a baby on her breast.
My father … came from a corrugated iron-roof house that is synonymous
with the poor or economically disadvantaged in so many third-world
countries. It's just the luck of the draw.'
That luck has since turned People Tree into a
label sold in two countries and Minney conducted her interview with
Lucire from both her native Britain and Japan. When she
first arrived in Japan in 1990, she could not find organic food
or even recycle. 'There didn't even seem to be "alternative" publications
covering environmental and social justice issues,' she said.
My father … came from
a corrugated iron-roof house that is synonymous with the poor or
economically disadvantaged in third-world countries. [Where youre
born is] just the luck of the draw'