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Gather&See Girls: Safia Minney

We were thrilled to catch up with the inspirational ethical fashion pioneer and founder of People Tree , Safia Minney. Read about her views on ethical fashion, her inspirations and her latest projects including a new initiative to raise awareness about modern slavery in the fashion industry.

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Why is ethical fashion so important?

We need to protect workers' rights and the environment in the fashion industry. By changing the operational cycle of design, buying and marketing you can deliver good prices and social impact to even the most economically marginalised communities in India, Bangladesh and around the world.  People Tree has worked closely with cotton farmers and Fair Trade groups and in partnership we have overcome huge challenges and created environmentally sustainable initiatives reducing water, creating indigenous seed banks and putting craft and women’s development central. Fast fashion needs to slow down.  If it slows down transparency and a true responsibility is possible through better trading practice – consumers are demanding transparency and becoming bored of fast fashion. They want to know the real story behind who made what they wear and they don’t want to continue to be part of the problem.
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What or who inspires you? 
The people who inspired are producers: artisans, farmers, the designers I collaborated with, and our customers and how they style People Tree. I love Henry Holland's quirky prints. I am also a big fan of Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood. In my new book 'Slow Fashion - Aesthetics Meets Ethics', I featured many of the campaigns and stores that promote ethical fashion. I found these truly inspiring and I hope others will do too.
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What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Trust your intuition and keep healthy - it always starts with that!
How would you describe your personal style?
Feminine. Quirky. Playful.
What item in your wardrobe do you most treasure? 
The dress made for me by Bangladesh artisans, designed by Bora Aksu, for my MBE award is my most treasured item.
Who is your fashion hero?
I have many fashion heroes - Dame Zandra Rhodes, Peter Jensen, Bora Aksu, Sam Ubhi. 
Latest discovery at home or abroad?
I recently discovered new natural dying techniques in Japan... Being petite helps with long haul flights - so does yoga. 
What is your favourite restaurant? 
The Duke of Cambridge Organic pub, Angel; Moshi Moshi, Liverpool Street
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If you could live in a different city for 1 year, where would it be?
So many cities... NYC? Tokyo again? Sao Paulo? There are so much happening in the major fashion cities around the world. It is really hard to pick one. 
What are your favourite pieces on Gather&See at the moment?
People Tree's Kathleen Shirt Tunic & Bibico's Matilda Dress
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What is next in the pipeline for People Tree?
Designer collaborations - that's top secret at the moment! I love the Peter Jensen X People Tree collaboration that we are doing for Autumn/Winter 2016. One of my personal projects is 'Slave To Fashion', a book and educational campaign aiming to raise awareness and help eradicate modern slavery in the fashion industry. 

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