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Slow Fashion Book Launch

The Books Blog
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From left: Lucy Siegle, Dan Raymond-Barker (New Internationalist), Mike Gidney, Lord Peter Melchett, John Hilary, Orsola De Castro, Caryn Franklin, Romy Fraser, Safia Minney (centre) and Jean Lambert ©

Wednesday, 23 March, London – 80 guests gathered at The Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington to launch ‘Slow Fashion – Aesthetics Meets Ethics’ by Safia Minney MBE, pioneer and founder of ethical fashion brand People Tree. Released by New Internationalist on the same day, Slow Fashion is an ‘illuminating and highly visual new book’, ‘an ethical fashion bible’ giving an in-depth insight into the designers, labels and eco-concept stores around the world that are taking the lead in sustainable fashion.

The evening launch gathered journalists, fashion bloggers, contributors and ethical fashion and Fairtrade campaigners who heard from Safia Minney; Caryn Franklin; Lucy Siegle, journalist and social justice advocate; Mike Gidney, CEO of Fairtrade Foundation; John Hilary, Director of War on Want; Jean Lambert, MEP for the Green Party; and Orsola De Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, and others.

Slow Fashion reflects Safia’s expertise, intimate and intuitive knowledge of Fair Trade supply chains and her 25-year history of campaigning for ethical business. Slow Fashion brings you the future of the fashion industry,’ opened Lucy Siegle (who MC’d the event). ‘Safia, you always have an answer. You are an unstoppable force. I hope we can all pay [you] back by getting this book out there.’

Mike Gidney, who was next to speak, professed that ‘Safia brings a radical compassion and a humanitarian approach to everything she does. 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!’

‘Safia knows the people at the beginning of the [supply] 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.’ – Romy Fraser, Founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies and Trill Farm

New Internationalist’s new eco-fashion book (which follows on from Naked Fashion, 2011) explores the rebirth of the slow fashion movement following the 2013 Rana Plaza factory tragedy in Bangladesh and the 2015 documentary The True Cost, and highlights further issues regarding slavery and fashion. Minney also celebrates the 25th anniversary of People Tree, which she first founded in Japan.

‘We’ve spent the past four years developing the European market for People Tree and I’ve been blown away with the fashion and media people involved in promoting fair treatment, whether it’s organic, vintage, upcycled, ethical produce, bicycle-repair shops or organic cafés,’ said Safia at the end of the launch. ‘I really hope to create livelihoods and support people to help themselves… and for [Slow Fashion] to inspire people to start new stores and to continue to campaign for fairer fashion.’

Slow Fashion contains a wealth of contributions from fashion insiders around the world. Mother and daughter Jo and Leah Wood swap styling tips and confidence tricks; Caryn Franklin looks at why women make the choices they do when buying clothes; and Summer Rayne Oakes reveals her passion for sustainable design. The book’s visual concept, with interactive QR codes, transports the reader from Bangladesh (where Zandra Rhodes meets local hand weavers) to ethical boutiques in Amsterdam and Japan. It is a woven compilation of engaging essays by experts such as Caryn Franklin; model, activist and social entrepreneur Lily Cole; Livia Firth; and designers Bora Aksu and Peter Jensen, as well as the evening’s speakers.

After War on Want’s John Hilary – who ‘really recommends reading Slow Fashion’ – heralded Safia as ‘holding a mirror to unfair trade’ and being ‘fearless in shining the spotlight on what is unacceptable business practice in the fashion industry’, Peter Melchett of the Soil Association highlighted that ‘it takes horrendous tragedies to get people to pay attention to what happens to the people supplying our clothes.’ Caryn Franklin then joined Safia on stage for a Q&A about Safia’s career, the fashion industry and Slow Fashion.

Watch a video of the book launch here:

You can read Caryn and Safia’s Q&A here.

Slow Fashion is available in paperback or hardback from New Internationalist.

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