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Forum hosts 'fast fashion' event with expert Safia Minney MBE

13 Dec 2018

Forum hosts ‘fast fashion’ event with expert Safia Minney MBE

The Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum will focus on the issues of sustainability and ‘fast fashion’ at its annual event on Thursday.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has partnered with the Forum and Belfast School of Art to present the event, entitled: “Are Rights in Fashion? Ethical practices, sustainability and slow fashion”, which will take place as part of the 2018 Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival programme.

The event’s keynote speaker will be Safia Minney MBE, Founder of People Tree and Managing Director of Po-Zu - both of which are globally recognised for providing ethical and environmentally sustainable fashion.

The NI Business and Human Rights Forum was established in 2015 as a multi-stakeholder platform for Government, business and civil society to engage on business and human rights issues in Northern Ireland.

Ahead of the event, Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, said:

“We are delighted to once again support the annual event of the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum, and to promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This event will provide a unique opportunity to hear from Safia Minney MBE - a pioneer and expert in the field of ethical and sustainable fashion. The Forum has often focused on the issue of modern slavery and transparency in supply chains, and we welcome the chance to shed light on these serious issues which have a very real impact on businesses in Northern Ireland.”

Chair of the NI Business and Human Rights Forum, Glenn Bradley, said:

“The high-street clothing industry accounts for a massive share of Western retail. Ethical fashion is an umbrella term, that concerns a range of issues - such as ensuring suitable working conditions, fair trade, sustainable production, ensuring a minimal environmental impact, and purchasing.

“Materials and labour can be purchased in different parts of the world where costs are very low and, in many cases, this may mean that workers are being exploited in order to meet the demands for ‘fast fashion’ on the high street. It’s therefore important for the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum to provide a platform and host Safia Minney MBE, who works tirelessly to address the problems with the way the fashion industry currently operates. It is essential that models for ethical practices, sustainability and slow fashion are demonstrated and promoted.”

Keynote speaker, Safia Minney MBE, said:

“It’s time to act. People’s movements are rapidly growing, globally, behind social and environmental justice. The Sustainable Development Goals, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and modern slavery initiatives prove that the current capitalist system is in crisis and urgently needs transforming. Citizens, individually, and represented by the Fair Trade and environmental movements, climate action campaigns and progressive businesses, are calling on business and government for urgent action, leadership and vision to create flourishing communities and economies, and avoid the extinction of humankind.

“Thursday’s event will be another step towards that. We need to raise our voices and act now.”

Karen Fleming, Head of Belfast School of Art at Ulster University, said:

“Retail and fast fashion, in particular, has been under increasing scrutiny as the sector faces a number of unprecedented challenges. Changes in the way we shop as well as concerns about the sustainability and ethics associated with the fashion and textile industry is a major influence on the practice and research of fashion and textile students and staff at Ulster University. Through events like today we are encouraging our students to think ethically about their designs and make a positive change on the industry.”


Notes to Editors:

1. Safia Minney MBE is a pioneer in ethical business, having worked in Japan before founding a Fair Trade movement, Global Village, in the 1990s, before establishing People Tree in London in 2001 - selling Fair Trade and sustainable fashion. She has received numerous awards for her work, including recognition by the World Economic Foundation as one of the world’s outstanding social entrepreneurs in 2006. Safia has been a creative force in delivering social impact and sustainability, and has established Fair Trade supply chain solutions.

2. The Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum was established in 2015, and is a multi-stakeholder platform which enables Government, business, and civil society to engage on business and human rights. Its work is directed by members with reference to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. More information is available here:

3. Creative and inspiring, the Belfast School of Art is a world leading art school that makes a significant contribution to contemporary art and design both at home and abroad. Its students produce innovative work in a dynamic studio-led environment, supported by the very latest technology and staff who are research-active and passionate about their subjects.

4. The ‘Are Rights in Fashion?’ is taking place as part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival, which is organised annually by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium. The 2018 festival is supported by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The full programme for this year’s festival can be accessed here:

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