More people are asking for transparency, accountability, and sustainability. Ethical clothing and fairtrade fashion are now a priority in the mind of many conscious consumers.
Greener and socially fairer choices are slowly shaping the way we consume clothes in this new decade. Fairtrade clothing allows farmers and workers to earn a decent living wage.
As a conscious consumer, you can wear stylish clothing while raising awareness about how destructive fashion is. Choose fairtrade fashion for beautiful aesthetics that unite style and conscious living.
Here is everything you need to know about the Fair Trade movement in the textile and apparel industry.
In this article:
- What does fair trade stand for?
- What is the main aim of Fairtrade?
- What are the 10 principles of Fairtrade?
- Does Fair Trade apply to clothes?
- What is fair trade in the fashion industry?
- Why is fair trade clothing important?
- Who benefits most from fair trade?
- How does fair trade help the fashion industry?
- How do you know if clothes are fair trade?
- What are the disadvantages of fair trade?
- Are Fairtrade products more expensive?
- Why is Fairtrade an ethical issue?
- Is Fair Trade actually fair?
- Is Fair Trade sustainable?
- Why is Fairtrade good for the environment?
- Which brands are fair trade?
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What does fair trade stand for?
Fairtrade is a certification standard system that ensures the respect of 10 principles in the production and supply chain of a product to protect both workers' welfare and the environment.
Fairtrade encourages workers' rights, safer working conditions, and fairer pay that benefit farmers, workers, consumers, and the Earth. The Fair Trade certification ensures quality products that support an ethical and sustainable global trade model.
Some international non-governmental organizations that campaign for Fair Trade include the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Besides these two membership groups, three other widely recognized organizations and certifiers operate in the United States, including Fair Trade International, Fair Trade USA, and Fair for Life.
Four values sit at the heart of Fair Trade:
What is the main aim of Fairtrade?
The fairtrade system aims to elevate disadvantaged farmers and workers while benefiting consumers and preserving the Earth's natural resources.
It promotes fairer trading conditions and empowers producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives.
The fairtrade certification ensures fair wages, labor rights, and humane conditions for farmers and workers in developing countries. It values the planet and the labor, dignity, and equality of all people.
What are the 10 principles of Fairtrade?
The Fairtrade certification standard system is made of 10 principles that drive commitments, policies, and procedures, including delivering positive and greater global impact. It guarantees the following:
- Opportunities for Disadvantaged Producers that support marginalized, small, family businesses, associations, and co-operatives to move towards a secure income, self-sufficiency, and ownership.
- Transparency and Accountability to open communication across the supply chain, make management and commercial relations transparent, and involve all producers in the decision-making processes.
- Fair Trading Practices that ensure social, economic, and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and the protection of cultural identity and traditional skills.
- Fair Prices and Payments that are mutually agreed by all involved through dialogue and participation and can be sustained by the market.
- No Child Labor and Forced Labor to ensure well-being, security, education, and need for play of children, workforce, members, and home workers.
- Non-Discrimination, Freedom of Association, Gender Equality, and Women's Economic Empowerment in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination, and retirement to ensure opportunities, full employment rights, trade unions, and full statutory employment benefits and equal pay for equal work.
- Good Working Conditions that provide a safe and healthy work environment for all, working hours and conditions in compliance with national, local, and ILO conventions.
- Capacity Building to increase positive impacts and develop skills and capabilities of producers, employees, or members.
- Fair Trade Promotion to raise awareness of the Fair Trade certification system and its mission and the need for more fairness in world trade.
- Respect for the Environment to maximize the use of renewable energy, recycled or biodegradable materials, organic production methods, local and sustainably managed raw materials sources.
Does Fair Trade apply to clothes?
Fairtrade applies to ingredients, whole products, and multi-ingredient products such as cotton and other responsible fibers in general. Many brands and retailers offer Fair Trade certified clothes.
Choose Fair Trade clothing to showcase your unique personality, style, and values and protect workers' welfare and the environment.
Buy from sustainable and ethical fashion brands that support a global trade model benefiting producers, consumers, and the planet.
What is fair trade in the fashion industry?
Fairtrade fashion applies to a brand, factory, or individual product that has been certified and labeled according to the Fairtrade certification standard system.
Fair Trade clothing brands are committed to the principles of Fair Trade and undergo independent audits and peer reviews. They offer certified products that value the planet and the labor, dignity, and equality of all people.
Fairtrade fashion promotes fairer trading conditions and supports farmers and artisans, environmental initiatives, raises awareness, develops ethical and sustainable clothing production.
Why is fair trade clothing important?
Fairtrade clothing is important to ensure fair wages, labor rights, and humane conditions for workers in developing countries. It also encourages sustainable production methods that preserve the Earth's natural resources.
Fair Trade standards in fashion protect the well-being of small producers and the planet. They support positive, uplifting, and ethical working conditions for farmers and workers and fairer world trade.
Fair Trade fashion ensures a business model based on partnership, people-centered values, and sustainability. It makes the world a better place by treating farmers and workers fairly and paying them a living wage.
Buying Fair Trade clothing promotes fairer trading conditions. It helps alleviate poverty and employ disadvantaged workers in developing countries.
Fairtrade certified fashion encourages environmentally friendly production methods and humane working conditions. It demands higher standards to reduce the exploitation of people and the planet.
Who benefits most from fair trade?
Fairtrade benefits all involved producers. It supports and empowers farmers, workers, artisans, traders, processors, and manufacturers that participate in Fairtrade, regardless of their size or location.
Fairtrade also benefits consumers and the Earth. It encourages environmental initiatives, raises awareness, develops ethical and sustainable production methods, and the responsible use of natural resources.
Fairtrade not only means fair wages and stable income for small producers and protection from fluctuating market prices but also environmentally and socially responsible initiatives that create sustainable solutions.
How does fair trade help the fashion industry?
Fairtrade in the fashion industry applies to cotton products and responsible fibers in general. It supports cotton farmers and workers in the clothing supply chain.
Buying Fair Trade products provide fair wages, safe working conditions, healthcare, leadership initiatives, micro-finance programs, and other economic or social benefits to farmers and workers in developing countries.
Fairtrade fashion benefits all involved, including producers, consumers, and the Earth. Certified products help lift farmers, their families, and local communities from poverty through fair trading practices.
Fair Trade certified companies are committed to fair trade principles and practices such as transparency, sustainable trade, fair wages, labor rights, humane conditions, health, and safety.
The Fairtrade Textile Standard for the use of responsible fibers in textile production composition ensure fair and sustainable trading relations that guarantee the following:
- reliable and predictable contract arrangements to facilitate long term investments in the improvement of workers' conditions
- compliance with labor conditions and grievance procedures verified by regular audits
- implementation of living wages within six years determined by approved methodologies
- empowerment of workers through unions, secure position, and status improvement
- workplace safety, including the use of protective clothing, proper handling of hazardous materials, and building safety
- minimal requirements related to working hours and overtime, employment contracts, and temporary employment
- training to raise awareness and improve workers' situation
- reduced negative impacts on workers and the environment by controlling chemical use and practices
- leading health and safety standards banning substances of concern, including carcinogenic, highly toxic substances
How do you know if clothes are fair trade?
Look for Fair Trade certifications to ensure you buy quality fashion products that support an ethical, sustainable global trade model benefiting workers, consumers, and the environment.
The Fair Trade system certifies social, economic, and environmental aspects of production against the standards set by Fair Trade organizations and federations.
Through exigent guidelines and third-party controls, Fair Trade certifications guarantee that companies improve their social and environmental impact by taking efficient action.
They also engage manufacturers and workers in the supply chain to bring about better wages and working conditions and brands to commit to fair terms of trade.
Fair Trade certifications verify essential practices at the beginning of the supply chain and ensure positive social and environmental impacts at the farming and manufacturing stage.
Certifications offer brand protection, confidence in sourcing, and greater credibility. They provide transparent, consistent, and comprehensive independent evaluation and verification of social and environmental performance claims.
What are the disadvantages of fair trade?
Fairtrade has numerous disadvantages, including more expensive products and high certification costs. It also costs a premium to market fair trade goods as commerce requires constant promotion and educated consumers.
High prices don't necessarily mean that small producers receive better pay. Corporate firms commonly keep the higher profits from trade and don't redistribute them to the poorest farmers and workers.
Brands and retailers often take advantage of consumers' environmental and social conscience through greenwashing, bluewashing, or social washing.
Social washing is plaguing many industries, including fashion. Businesses and corporations market themselves as socially responsible without facts backing their claims.
Check out our article on social washing for more information about these issues.
Are Fairtrade products more expensive?
Fairtrade products aren't always more expensive than non-Fairtrade products. Some Fairtrade certified products are cheaper than similar conventional products.
The Fairtrade Foundation regularly checks the prices of both Fairtrade products and non-Fairtrade similar ones. It aims to change the way trade works through better prices.
Why is Fairtrade an ethical issue?
Small-scale farmers and workers are among the most marginalized by the global trade system. Fair Trade is all about making trade fair and ethical. It aims to make a difference in the lives of the people who grow and create the things we love.
The fairtrade system supports an ethical, sustainable global trade model that benefits workers, consumers, and the planet. It certifies social, economic, and environmental aspects of production against ethics standards.
Many companies behave unethically and disastrous social and environmental impacts. Fair Trade guarantees that those producer organizations take efficient action for higher social and environmental performance.
Fairtrade certifications lower harm during the product's life cycle as much as possible, from raw material extraction and farming to production and distribution.
Is Fair Trade actually fair?
Fair Trade is truly fairer since fair doesn't mean equal. There isn't an equal distribution of wealth generated by fairtrade products to all involved, including producers, farmers, and farmworkers.
But the Fairtrade certification ensures better wages and working conditions and positive social and environmental impacts and engages brands to commit to fair terms of trade.
The Fairtrade system enables small producers to build their skills and knowledge and empowers them to become active participants in their communities.
Fairtrade also helps farmers and farmworkers combat poverty by providing stable incomes, better prices and yields, fair wages, diversification, labor rights, humane conditions, health, and safety.
Is Fairtrade sustainable?
Fairtrade is sustainable as environmental protection is a principle of the Fairtrade certification system. Fairtrade requires small and large producers to comply with ecological standards leading to better agricultural practices and environmentally sustainable production.
Fairtrade also ensures that producers comply with internationally monitored social and environmental standards while supporting farmers and farm workers with financial benefits and resources for water conservation, organic conversion, reforestation, and environmental education.
Why is Fairtrade good for the environment?
Fairtrade protects the environment by encouraging producers to improve soil and water quality, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste and pests, preserve biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Fair Trade certified products encourage sustainable production methods that preserve the Earth's natural resources leading to higher social and environmental performance.
Fairtrade lowers environmental harm during the product's life cycle as much as possible, from raw material extraction and farming to production and distribution.
Which brands are fair trade?
Look for brands that set an example with a Fair Trade business model based on partnership, people-centered values, and sustainability. They promote environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.
Fairtrade brands create sustainable solutions and promote fairer trading conditions that support farmers and artisans. They help alleviate poverty and employ disadvantaged workers in developing countries.
Check out our selection of the best affordable and Fair Trade clothing brands making beautiful fashion under the highest social and environmental standards.
Here are some Fair Trade fashion labels you need to know:
- Nudie Jeans, an ethical denim brand making high-quality jeans sustainably and ethically. It's well-known for its sustainability, both environmental and social.
- Outerknown, a label that creates sustainable Fair Trade essentials for women and men with the most planet-friendly fibers.
- PACT, a leading sustainable fashion brand using organic fabrics and Fair Trade factories to design stylish essential clothing. It creates ethical apparel for women, men, kids, and babies.
- People Tree, an online garment retailer making clothes from environmentally-friendly materials, including Fair Trade, certified organic cotton.
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About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.