People Tree Ltd.

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People Tree Ltd. is a fair trade apparel company founded in 1991 by Safia Minney in Tokyo, Japan. The company is based in both London and Tokyo.


Early Years[edit]

In 1991, British born Safia Minney created Global Village, an environmental campaigning NGO, after discovering how little Japanese people knew about sustainable living. Global Village was the foundation of her own fashion label.

People Tree began as a clothing catalog which featured hand woven and natural dyed hand bags, clothing, and clogs made by women from Bangladesh,[1] the initial start up was incredibly difficult as it was the first of its kind. Safia once said, " When I started out, I wasn't very realistic on how difficult it would be to make People Tree work. We were investing in labour-intensive process while the industry was going in the other direction: mass-manufactured fashion, using synthetics instead of natural materials. We were dealing with very disadvantage people in remote places, and the business costs were huge, it was a massive undertaking, but it needed to be done." [2]

In 1995, Fair Trade Company was formed as a limited company and a shop was opened in the fashionable Jiyugaoka district, in Tokyo;[3] in 1997, Safia Minney added a Fair Trade Fashion Collection, using eco-textiles, including organic cotton, to the products sold by Fair Trade Company, and the first People Tree collection was launched. People Tree was working closely with textile artisan groups to help them meet environmental standards and develop their market potential, with two full-time designers at People Tree; in 1998, the first flagship store in Tokyo.

British Expansion[edit]

In 1999, People Tree's business expanded to England where the brand formed a partnership with Co-operative Group; in 2001, People Tree launched in the United Kingdom. By 2004, the company expanded into 20 different countries and turned over $1.79 million.[4] In 2005, People Tree Japan launched its first 'prototype franchise' store in Tokyo; in 2006, CEO Safia Minney persuaded Top Shop executives to take People Tree into Topshop as a concession.[5]

People Tree designs, manufactures, and markets its own label and works in collaboration with designers like Orla Kiely and Bora Aksu,[6] from 2009 to 2012, People Tree used actress Emma Watson from Harry Potter as a brand ambassador to launch a fair trade collection for teenagers.[7] In 2013, long-time People Tree model Lauren Gold became a People Tree Ambassador.[8]

Currently, People Tree is sold in 500 stores around the world including The company also runs its own online and mail-order businesses.[9]

People Tree implemented the first supply chain for organic cotton and was the first organization in the world to achieve GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification for a supply chain located in the developing world.


  1. ^ Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal (2005). Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption. 
  2. ^ Finer, Nadia and Emily (2011). More to Life Than Shoes: How to Kick-Start Your Career and Change Your Life. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal (2005). Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption. 
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