Safia Minney writes:
It was wonderful working with some of Pakistan’s most creative fashion designers Zuria Dor, Gulabo, Pink Tree, Jeem, Munib Nawaz & Sonya Battla as part of a program to promote ethics and culture by the British Council.
Despite having a rich handcraft and textile heritage, unlike countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan has no Fair Trade movement. My role in the mentoring program was to work with them to help develop their collections for London Fashion Week using sustainable and Fair Trade practices where possible.
All the designers are passionate about showcasing the best of Pakistan’s hand skills in their collections and their work is exquisite. Some of my favourite skills like Zardozi embroidery, using metal wire beads together with hand embroidery, featured strongly in many collections. Designers were also keen to use handwoven textile at the same time to innovate and use organic cotton and other materials – Munib was incredible at making very eco and avant-garde fabrics locally.
One of the issues is that with weak local NGOs and trade unions, Pakistan has little awareness of minimum wages – let alone a debate about Living Wages. Setting up cost sheets and looking at ways to reflect fair labour costs into design and product development reminded me of designing collections for People Tree with their producers.
The results were strong and some friendships made for life. Have a look at the fashion show presented at London Fashion Week.
Filmed by Safia’s daughter, Natalie Minney.
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