The face of fashion is changing. More consumers are wising up to the state of the fashion industry: the huge pressures it puts on the environment, the working conditions, and the lack of transparency about supply chains. As more pressure is put on big name brands and fast fashion outlets, conversations about ethical fashion that doesn’t sacrifice on style have become louder and more powerful than ever. Below is a list of some of the public figures, writers and activists who are making these changes and transforming the way we think about our clothes – for the better.
Livia Firth is the founder and creative director of Eco-Age, the brand consultancy agency that specialises in enabling businesses to grow through sustainable solutions. The agency have worked with a range of brands including Erdem, Marks & Spencer, Net-A-Porter and the Gucci Group. In 2009 she founded the Green Carpet Challenge that, in the most literal sense, puts sustainable fashion in the spotlight at the world’s most high profile red carpet events. Her stance on the fashion industry is unmoving and unapologetic – her on-stage heated exchanges with the head of sustainability at H&M have been preserved for posterity in The True Cost. She doesn’t call herself a professional agitator for nothing!
Carry Somers & Orsola de Castro
Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro are the founders and directors of Fashion Revolution. The annual campaign commemorates the Rana Plaza disaster on the 24th April 2013, and acts as a call to arms by asking the question “Who Made My Clothes?”. The campaign is based in the UK but is now a worldwide movement, with it extending from a day to a week long call for a fashion revolution. Both Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro have a history of working towards transparency and sustainability in the fashion supply chain: Carry Somers is the founder of WFTO certified Pachacuti, and Orsola de Castro’s label From Somewhere was the first to take luxury pre-consumer textile waste and upcycle it. They now work full time on Fashion Revolution.
As a public figure, Emma Watson has long been a champion of ethical fashion and brought the cause into the limelight. In 2010 she released her first of three lines with us at People Tree. She went onto work on a series of sustainably produced pieces with Alberta Ferretti, and a collaboration with Net-a-Porter and Livia Firth. Most recently, she committed to the Green Carpet Challenge and made headlines at this year’s Met Gala, wearing a dress made from recycled plastic bottles. (This dress was a collaboration between Calvin Klein and the aforementioned Eco Age!)
Over in Ireland, Rosie O’Reilly is an ethical powerhouse. She heads up several initiatives that champion a better kind of fashion industry. She is the designer of the ethical and sustainable fashion brand We Are Islanders; coordinates Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland and Fashion Revolution Ireland; and she is the Creative Director of Re-dress, an initiative that co-ordinates events, workshops, projects, exhibitions, industry consultations and public campaigns to promote meaningful change and better fashion.
Lucy Siegle is a writer and activist who focuses on ethical living. Alongside Livia Firth, she was an executive producer of The True Cost, the hugely successful documentary about the impact the fashion industry has on people and the planet. She has a regular column in the Observer on ethical living and has written two books including To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? As a writer and activist, she ensures that the conversation around ethical fashion (and the drives to change it) are still being heard.
And last but definitely not least, our founder herself. Safia Minney MBE is a social entrepreneur, author and activist. Safia Minney founded Global Village in 1989 in Tokyo after moving there from London with her hustband. Global village operated from Safia’s home for nine years, gradually occupying more and more space. By 1995, the Fair Trade Company was formed and a shop was opened in the fashionable Jiyugaoka district in Tokyo. In 1997, the first People Tree collection was launched, forming People Tree Japan; People Tree was then launched in the UK where we still remain today. She has written three books on the subject (By Hand, Naked Fashion and Slow Fashion) and is currently working on her fourth, Slave to Fashion, which recently concluded its successful Kickstarter. She is an unstoppable force for good in the world of fashion and ethics – People Tree and Fair Trade is a full time job, a lifetime commitment, and an absolute passion.