By Cristina Boydell
Photography courtesy of People Tree
“Ethical fashion” is a phrase that is commonly used but rarely explained. There are very few brands that maintain their presence in the retail world solely for sustainable fashion. Many designer labels have certain ethical products or lines that they produce; even large fashion retail giants, such as H&M, have recently created a related range for spring.
One brand that springs to mind, however, is People Tree — a true pioneer in sustainable, ethical and fair trade fashion.
The story began as Global Village, an environmental campaigning NGO, founded in Japan in 1991 by Safia Minney, turned into Fair Trade Company Ltd in Japan in 1995. In 1997, the ecological fashion line was launched. In 2001, People Tree was launched in the U.K. and has continued to grow ever since.
People Tree works with 50 fair trade groups of organic cotton farmers and artisans in 10 countries. The company provides some of the world’s most marginalized communities with a sustainable living. Handwoven fabrics, hand screen and hand block printing are widely used by the brand.
For their latest spring collection, apart from creative and colourful menswear and womenswear lines, People Tree has introduced a unique range of recycled sari fabric that was used to make lifestyle products, accessories and home décor. Items such as blankets and stationary were formed from hand-made paper created from waste cotton and made using the traditional kantha stitch.
People Tree began working with craft producer groups using recycled sari in 2005. Many of these groups are based in tiny villages in Bangladesh and India surrounded by nature, feeling a strong connection and respect for it.
Safia Minney, People Tree’s CEO and founder, has received various awards for her entrepreneurship, ethical and business skills. In March 2013, People Tree received a high commendation at the City Sustainable Awards for the fashion retail category. And who better to announce the award than the famous eco-fashion icon and Green Carpet Challenge entrepreneur Livia Firth at the Lord Mayor’s residence, Mansion House.
Minney and People Tree are eco-heros to many, showing the ethical way forward and building awareness of fair trade and environmentally sustainable solutions. Their mission is to support, protect, supply, provide and set an example through environmental responsibility. Now how’s that for guilt-free shopping!