Meet the brand: Po-Zu

What is Po-Zu?

Award-winning sustainable shoe company Po-Zu began life in a living room in London in 2006, with the aim of challenging current trends of mass-producing cheap, throwaway shoes. The brand now hand-makes all its products in Portugal, including its vegan range of sneakers, sandals and boots. Its factories derive 58 percent of their energy from renewable sources and recycle almost all of their waste products. All of Po-Zu’s materials come from naturally renewable sources and are responsibly harvested, and the company has a total ban on harmful solvent-based substances and glues. In 2016, Po-Zu set up The Better Shoes Foundation to promote sustainable development and practices across the global shoe industry. Last year, Safia Minney, founder of pioneering sustainable fashion brand People Tree, joined Po-Zu as its new Managing Director.

Star Wars fans in particular will love Po-Zu: the company launched an official Star Wars collection in 2016 as part of a major collaboration with the movie franchise. The collection includes footwear for men, women and children and offers everything from sneakers featuring all-over Porg prints to snug Chewbacca boots made from faux fur.

Why Po-Zu is an Infinity Trend brand

All of Po-Zu’s suppliers must comply with a comprehensive Environmental and Ethical Conduct Charter, which requires them to guarantee safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, act fairly and ethically, and use environmentally responsible practices. This includes ensuring that all workers are of legal age and that they are receiving the legally mandated minimum wages and benefits (including holidays), as well as guaranteeing a secure working environment, with appropriate procedures in place to identify and prevent hazards and emergencies.

All materials used come from naturally renewable sources and are responsibly harvested. They contain no pesticides, bleaches or toxic dyes and are locally sourced wherever possible. Organic cotton is used for the brand’s shoes and all leather is chromium-free. Sustainable materials used by Po-Zu include Piñatex, which is made from the by-product of the pineapple harvest and which requires no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides to be produced; its strong, flexible and soft qualities also make it a great vegan alternative to leather. Po-Zu also uses natural latex, which is made from the milky sap of the Lactae Hevea tree – it’s an eco-friendly alternative to standard petroleum-based rubber. In addition, Po-Zu doesn’t use any solvent-based substances or glues, as they are a health hazard for workers. Instead, natural latex is used as a temporary bond before shoe parts are stitched together.

Po-Zu has received a number of certifications and awards for its work. It is accredited by the Ethical Company Organisation, which carries out research to produce an annual list, The Good Shopping Guide, detailing the most and least ethical brands. Po-Zu has been ranked as the number one shoe brand by The Good Shopping Guide for 11 consecutive years – an unprecedented run. Po-Zu is also a member of the Fair Rubber Association and has been awarded the Butterfly Mark, which is granted to companies that take pride in their craftsmanship, service and design, whilst protecting the planet and its resources.

Po-Zu gives 10 percent of its net profits to charity. This is divided equally between three environmental organisations: the Resurgence Trust, an educational charity that organises conferences and events to promote ecological sustainability, social justice and spiritual values; Pesticide Action Network UK, which works closely with partners in developing countries (as well as the UK) to help farmers stop using harmful pesticides and adopt sustainable and profitable farming practices; and the Environmental Justice Foundation, an NGO that empowers people suffering from environmental abuses to find peaceful ways of preventing them.

Infinity Trend has granted Po-Zu six sustainable value badges:

What you can buy

Po-Zu has a variety of sneakers, boots, sandals and shoes for women, men and children. Comfort is clearly important to the brand, as they’ve incorporated a revolutionary Foot Mattress into their products – the mattress is made up of layers of naturally pliable coconut fibres linked together with natural latex, creating air pockets that allow the mattress to mould to the shape of your feet. There’s no compromise on style, however, with on-trend sneakers, cool graphic prints, military-style boots and party-ready heeled wedges.

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Meet the brand: Peruvian Connection

What is Peruvian Connection?

Peruvian Connection was founded in 1976 by mother-and-daughter team Biddy and Annie Hurlbut. Anthropology student Annie fell in love with the hand-woven alpaca blankets and ponchos that she found in the markets of Cuzco, Peru. Annie says she was immediately drawn to the luxury fabric: “it’s softer than cashmere and more durable”. After bringing home a silky alpaca sweater coat as a birthday present for her mother, Annie and Biddy decided to start importing a smaller range of sweaters, with Annie designing and producing them in Peru – having learnt everything she could about the spinning and dyeing of alpaca fibres and the traditional Andean textile techniques – and Biddy selling them back home in Kansas. The range was initially sold to a handful of high-end speciality stores, and quickly began gaining recognition in the US and worldwide. Today, Peruvian Connection releases five international collections per year, and their goal is the same as it was in the 1970s: to offer original designs in luxury fabrics, all made by skilled Andean artisans. The Duchess of Cambridge and sister Pippa are fans, with Kate even wearing the company’s popular alpaca fur hat to last year’s Christmas Day church service.  

Why Peruvian Connection is an Infinity Trend brand

The brand creates personal connections with the artisans they work with, having built up close relationships over the past 20 years. Peruvian Connection staff regularly conduct factory visits and extensive quality control inspections to ensure that working conditions are consistently fair, that the use of child labour is completely prohibited, and that artisans are treated with dignity and respect. This includes fair wages many of the artisans the company works with are in the highest skilled tier of artisan production, meaning that they are among some of the highest-paid people in their profession as well as bonuses, time off, hot meals, transportation, and, in some cases, childcare.

Peruvian Connection supports a number of charities and initiatives in South America, including Pro Mujer Peru, a non-profit organisation that helps low-income women in Peru transform their lives through micro-finance programmes, entrepreneurial training and empowerment, and vital health services. Peruvian Connection also invests in The Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, Peru, which aims to preserve traditional Inca textile techniques by supporting 10 weaving communities in the Cusco area and running various workshops and exhibitions. Other organisations that Peruvian Connection works with include an orphanage, a programme for children with learning disabilities, and two daycare centres, which enable mothers to find employment to support their families.

– Many of the company’s products are made from alpaca fibre, which is incredibly soft, almost waterproof, and warmer and stronger than wool. Alpaca fibre is part of Peruvian culture – it was once reserved for Inca royalty – and using alpaca promotes sustainable agriculture in the Andes. The brand also uses Peruvian pima cotton, which is harvested using environmentally friendly, 100 percent hand-grown methods. Pima cotton is extremely durable, soft, and hypoallergenic.

– The company employs Andean knitters to create their unique ‘art knits’: handcrafted sweaters, cardigans and kimonos made by talented artisans who have learnt their traditional skills from their mothers and grandmothers. The art knitting industry in the Andes is small, so by supporting it, the brand is helping to preserve an ancient tradition. By being able to earn an income this way, the artisans can remain in their native villages and support their families.

Infinity Trend has granted Peruvian Connection four sustainable value badges:

What you can buy

While Peruvian Connection’s speciality is undoubtedly gorgeous sweaters, cardigans and coats made from silky smooth and seriously warm alpaca fibres, it also offers luxurious T-shirts and elegant tunics made from hand-grown Peruvian pima cotton, as well as chic skirts and dresses, trousers, jewellery, and snug hats, gloves and scarves.

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Meet the brand: People Tree

What is People Tree?

People Tree is a pioneer when it comes to sustainable fashion. The company was founded in 1991 by social entrepreneur Safia Minney, who was concerned at the lack of awareness of sustainable living. When People Tree began, finding clothes that were both stylish and ethically made was a challenge. Safia set out to change that, creating a fashion line that is not only 100 percent Fair Trade throughout the whole supply chain, but which also offers easy-to-wear, on-trend pieces (the brand has gained extra style points through collaborations with the likes of Emma Watson and Orla Kiely).

Sold in more than 500 stores around the globe, People Tree is now one of the world’s most well-respected sustainable clothing brands, with an array of awards including Best Organic Textile Product at the Natural and Organic Products Europe Awards and Most Sustainable Brand at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards. Today, People Tree supports 4,000 farmers and artisans through 50 Fair Trade producer groups based in six countries, providing safe working conditions and fair wages.

An artisan at People Tree partner Bombolulu.

Founder Safia was driven by a desire to move away from the horrific impact of fast fashion, both in terms of the human and environmental cost. On what inspired her to make a real change, she says: “I saw an eight-year-old boy lying sick on the dirty floor of a slum workshop. Having a son, the same age I trembled with the anger and injustice of it, and I never forgot him.”

Why People Tree is an Infinity Trend brand

People Tree is a groundbreaking innovator in the ethically and environmentally friendly fashion world. If you take a look at their credentials, it’s not hard to see why:

– In 2013, People Tree became the first clothing company to receive the World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade product mark. This means that it follows the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, which include transparency and accountability, good working conditions, no forced or child labour, and respect for the environment.

– As well as accreditation from the World Fair Trade Organization, People Tree is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which states that its products have at least 70 percent organic fibre content and don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in conventional textile production. GOTS-approved clothes are also verified through the entire supply chain – meaning that the farms and factories that People Tree work with must have certification to a legally recognised standard. Even the little details, such as buttons, threads and zips, must meet strict criteria.

The majority of People Tree’s cotton is certified organic and Fairtrade, and all its organic fibre is certified in India by Control Union (an international Dutch-based organic certification body). Organic fibres don’t use harmful synthetic fertilisers or potentially toxic pesticides, which helps prevent associated health problems and deaths that are common in non-organic cotton production.

The company is a passionate advocate for using traditional hand skills, as this not only provides livelihoods for artisans in rural areas across the developing world (meaning that they don’t have to travel to cities for work), but it is also carbon neutral and better for the environment: for example, the production of fabric using a hand loom rather than a machine saves one tonne of Co2 per loom, per year.

– People Tree has its own foundation, an independent charity that provides farmers and artisans with scaling up training, technical support and environmental initiatives. It also raises awareness and campaigns for fair and sustainable fashion.

Infinity Trend has granted People Tree five sustainable value badges:

What you can buy

Versatile dresses and everyday essentials are People Tree’s forte. From laid-back shirt styles to flowing maxis, the brand’s ethical dresses are elegant and designed to flatter. Comfy vests, yoga leggings and hand-woven trousers are favourites too. Snug accessories like scarves and gloves are great for frosty days, while the ethically made jewellery range includes delicate earrings and necklaces. You’ll also find cute baby clothes made from 100 percent cotton.

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