Everything You Need To Know About Our Fair Value

by: Rosie Dalton | 8 months ago | Features

Image: one of Fair label Kowtow’s cotton producers. Image source.

At Well Made Clothes we believe that the people who make our clothes deserve to be treated the same way we are treated: with living wages; safe working conditions; voluntary overtime; and freedom of association. Unfortunately, though, this is not the norm in today’s fashion industry. In fact, a 2015 study showed that 71 percent of leading UK brands believed there was a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some point in their supply chains. Which hasn’t changed much over recent years, either – even as more information about the fashion industry supply chain becomes available. It is for this reason that we have made ‘Fair’ one of our eight core values underpinning the Well Made Clothes website. 

These values represent the framework that informs our company’s ethics. All brands on Well Made Clothes must first adhere to a rigorous code of conduct, which requires them to meet minimum labour and environmental standards. Then on top of this, each brand must meet at least one of our core values; each of which is governed by a strict set of minimum requirements. To meet our Fair value, for example, a minimum number of the brand’s Cut, Make, and Trim (CMT) manufacturers must be accredited with a globally recognised, independent certifier – there are no dodgy audits here. The specific minimum requirements of this certification must include a living wage, paid (and voluntary) overtime, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. In addition to this, the workplace must comply with local health and safety standards. Which means customers can rest assured that fair treatment is being provided for the people making these clothes.

 

We believe this is incredibly important, because the lack of a living wage in many global garment factories is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the human rights violations taking place throughout this sector. According to Fashion Revolution’s 2015 White Paper, systematic exploitation throughout the Ready Made Garment industry includes forced and child labour, repression and discrimination, and unsafe, dirty and unfair working conditions. “Producers and garment workers might face excessive hours, forced overtime, lack of job security, denial of trade union rights, poor health, exhaustion, sexual harassment, discrimination and denial of other basic human rights when on the job,” the paper points out

These human rights violations aren’t just limited to garment factory floors, either. Instead, similar issues also trickle all the way down from the finished products to its earliest seed origins. The health of the farmers responsible for growing crops like cotton, for example, is another major concern. Because, according to the United Nations' estimates, 20,000 people die in developing countries from pesticide poisoning every single year, while a further 3 million people suffer chronic health problems. Fortunately, though, producing clothing under fair work conditions can help to tackle some of these issues.

Kowtow, for instance – which is one of our Fair brands – uses only 100% fair trade certified cotton, as certified by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLOI). The label’s fair trade producer groups are democratically run and respect the rights of farmers and farm workers. In addition to this, workers are paid above a guaranteed minimum price, which ensures a sustainable livelihood for their cotton producers. In Kowtow’s factory in Kolkata, India, employees also receive paid holiday leave, House Rent (which is 5% of their basic wages) and a safe, spacious working environment.

 

But ensuring Fair work isn’t only an issue in developing nations. In fact, a 2015 study demonstrated that wage theft, unpaid overtime and unclean working environments were all commonplace throughout the LA garment industry as well. Of the garment workers surveyed in this study, 21% said they had “experienced physical or verbal violence on the job and 6% reported sexual harassment in the workplace. Half complained of poor ventilation, and eye and nose irritation from chemicals. A third of the workers surveyed reported a lack of clean drinking water at work and almost a third said they are not allowed to take rest breaks.”

Even on Australian shores, the use of outworkers can involve several human rights violations as well. Initiatives like the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia’s Fairwear campaign seek to address these problems, but it is also important to see this happening on a brand-by-brand basis. Local label Nobody Denim, for instance, works closely with the TCFUA to maintain an ethical workplace. The brand is also accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, which means that customers can feel confident in knowing that Nobody Denim has taken practical steps to ensure everyone involved in making their designs receives fair wages and safe working conditions. So if you, like us, believe in equality for all people (including those who make our clothes), then this is the well-made value for you.

 

You can shop well-made clothing that fits into our Fair value over here.

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