Fair Trade and the Future of Fashion

On Friday 22 February, People Tree hosted a press event to kick-off Fairtrade Fortnight and launch our Spring Summer 2013 collection. The event featured a panel discussion about Fair Trade and the Future of Fashion.

Safia Minney, People Tree Founder and CEO, chaired the discussion between Mike Gidney, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, social entrepreneur Geetie Singh, designer Peter Jensen, model Lauren Gold and journalist Stacey Dooley.

Journalists, bloggers, fashion buyers and owners of independent shops joined the team from People Tree at the Duke of Cambridge, Britain’s first and only organic pub, for an inspirational discussion about Fair Trade, organic cotton, fashion and how to change the world.

Mike Gidney with Safia Minney
Mike Gidney with Safia Minney

Mike Gidney is the Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation. Fairtrade Fortnight is a two week celebration of all that Fair Trade can provide. Over the two weeks, there will be more than 10,000 events up and down the country celebrating Fair Trade, from the world’s longest banana split to the world’s first coffee powered car.

This year the theme of Fairtrade Fortnight is Go Further. According to Mike, “in the UK, Fair Trade is growing at double digit rate despite the recession.” He acknowledged that the Fair trade concept is much better known in food than in cotton. While consumers have embraced Fair Trade coffee, tea, bananas and chocolate, he said, “People don’t necessarily want to trade down on fast fashion cheap.”

But he believes changing perceptions in the fashion industry is possible. Mike told the audience why: “People Tree proves it can be done – wonderful clothes, well made in a way that respects the farmers, respects the environment.”

In the spirit of Go Further, Mike challenged the audience to do two things: “First, if you’ve not ever bought a piece of Fair Trade clothing, buy one… If you haven’t tried fair trade food, give it a go.”

Second, he challenged the audience to tell the people around them about Fair Trade and organic fashion:  “Tell people they can make a positive difference without getting into all the details. Give the public something really positive they can do. You can make a difference today by buying clothes at People Tree or looking for the Fair Trade mark when you are buying food.”

Designer Peter Jensen with Safia Minney
Designer Peter Jensen with Safia Minney

Fashion designer Peter Jensen collaborated with People Tree to design a best-selling collection for Spring Summer 2013. During the discussion, Safia Minney asked Peter why he said yes to working with People Tree. Peter said yes because “I might be able to learn something – I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”


Lauren Gold and Geetie Singh with Safia Minney
Lauren Gold and Geetie Singh with Safia Minney

Lauren Gold is a model and People Tree Ambassador. In January 2013, Lauren traveled with Safia to India to model for the summer catalogue and to see the impact People Tree is having on the lives of Fair Trade farmers and producers.

According to Lauren: “As a model, you turn up, model some clothes, and go home. The trip to India was a massive eye opener. I saw how the Fair Trade premiums are being used. I saw the kids going to schools, how happy they were, all the benefits they are getting, and the clean water.”

Geeti Singh, owner of the Duke of Cambridge organic pub, is an entrepreneur and environmentalist. Geeti is passionate about buying organic food and supporting local farmers. Geeti’s interest in sustainable fashion is rooted in her commitment to protecting the environment: “Once you start thinking about planetary health, you have to stop thinking about just food. Conventional cotton is 16% of all insecticide usage. Organic cotton would be the most powerful thing to change.”

In Geeti’s words: “Why would we not support People Tree who works so hard to support the producers who create the work for People Tree? Wearing guilt free clothing is wonderful, heavenly.”

Geeti challenged the audience to ask questions about where their products come from, even if they don’t know the answers and she concluded that “how you spend your money can completely change the world.”


Click here to shop ethical fashion from People Tree.

Credits: Film edited by Miki Alcade and Produced by Safia Minney. Music by 24Pesos. Special thanks to all the panelists and The Duke of Cambridge.

One Reply to “Fair Trade and the Future of Fashion”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful event and so great to see so much publicity about Fairtrade over the last few weeks. I think People Tree are amazing and a fantastic example of how good fairtrade fashion can look. The beautiful dress that Safia is wearing is definitely on my wish list for Spring. Loving the new blog too, a great source of information and inspiration.

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