Safia Minney, founder and CEO of ethical fashion label People Tree, wants to shed a light on modern-day slavery in the fashion industry. Fresh off the publication of her second book, Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics, Minney has launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund a new multimedia initiative that highlights the stories of the men, women, and children who are forced to make clothing for the high streets of the Western world. “This book and campaign, Slave to Fashion, is really important to me because it gives people an understanding of modern slavery in the garment industry and shows how we can eradicate slavery both from business and our day-to-day consumption,” Minney said in an accompanying video. “This project will give slavery a human face. How do we inadvertently support slavery in our day-to-day shopping choices? And what are the causes of slavery in the garment industry?”
BREAKING THE CHAINS
Minney and her team, which includes photographer and filmmaker Miki Alcalde, will be conducting undercover interviews with garment workers, shooting micro-documentaries, and developing materials for a dedicated Slave to Fashion website and its eventual monograph.
“Through this project, we hope to be able to galvanize enough interest to really liberate these people,” said Minney, who hopes to raise $49,582 in seed money. “How can we fix this problem? How can businesses, society, and individuals change what they do and eradicate slavery and exploitation in the supply chain?”
Slave to Fashion, Minney added, will also feature designers and brands who are “disrupting the fashion industry and developing new supply chains and operations to put human rights at the same importance as profit.”
There are 21 million people worldwide who are victims of forced labor, according to the International Labour Organization. Of these, 26 percent are below the age of 18.
The first world isn’t immune to labor violations, either. The British government estimates that more than 13,000 people in the United Kingdom today are modern-day slaves.
And Minney is more than well-equipped to give this issue the attention it warrants.
“Safia and her team have got years of experience—proper, real, intuitive, and important partnerships with producers overseas,” said Guardian journalist Lucy Siegel, author To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? “They get it, they’re trusted, and they’re exactly the right people to tell us the stories of the supply chain and what we can do about it.”
Minney is also the author of Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution, a book about the “new sustainable fashion revolution” that includes contributions from designer Vivienne Westwood, actress-activist Emma Watson, and reigning queen of the green carpet Livia Firth.
A third volume would provide a more expansive view of the problems—and solutions—facing the fashion industry.
“Slave to Fashion will bring the facts and the people closer to you,” Minney said. We need to hold companies accountable for the way they do business, so please pledge and be part of the solution.”