It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, So What Does ‘Fair’ In Fashion Actually Mean?

by: Courtney Sanders | 1 month ago | Features

Image: shop our Fair value here.

It's Fairtrade Fortnight, which is a fortnight that raises awareness about the benefits of the Fairtrade certification. Considering this, we thought it a good time to detail how you can ensure your clothes are made by people who are being treated fairly.

Fair is a term that’s used a lot to describe the working conditions of garment workers in fashion. However, fair working conditions can only be guaranteed when the production facilities are audited and certified by a trusted, independent certification body. 

Fairtrade is one such certification. Fairtrade’s primary focus is ensuring small farmers receive fair prices for their produce. Fairtrade does this using three key mechanisms:

1. The Fairtrade minimum price: ‘ensuring producers receive a Fairtrade Minimum Price which acts as a safeguard against falling prices, allowing farmers and workers to plan for their future.’

2. The Fairtrade premium: ‘a fixed additional amount of money that provides farmers and workers with the capacity to invest in improving the quality of their businesses and communities.’

3. The Fairtrade standards: ‘instill fair terms of trade between farmers and buyers, protect workers’ rights, and are the framework for producers to build thriving farms and organisations.’

Because of these mechanisms, you can rest assured that when you purchase a Fairtrade-certified garment, producers throughout the supply chain have been treated fairly.

There are a few other fair certifications that ensure the fair treatment of garment workers, too.

GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is primarily an environmental certification, ensuring materials are organic. However, to be GOTS-certified, a strict set of labour standards must also be met, so if a label is GOTS-certified, garment workers throughout the supply chain are being treated fairly.

SA 800 is an international labour standard. When a facility SA 800 certified, a rigorous independent auditing process has taken place to ensure garment workers in that facility are being treated fairly.

Ethical Clothing Australia is a fair labour standard in Australia. Ethical Clothing Australia works with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia to garment workers in the Cut-Make-Trim portion of a label’s supply chain are being treated fairly.

Fair certifications can be expensive and time-consuming to obtain, especially for small labels. In lieu of a Fair certification, we recommend looking for transparency of the supply chain from a label. Knowing where everything is produced is the first step to knowing the conditions under which everything is produced. Unfortunately, transparency of fashion supply chains by labels is still pretty unusual in fashion, especially when it comes to the complicated global supply chains of large fashion brands. According to Fashion Revolution's Transparency Index 2021, which investigated the transparency of the world's largest 250 fashion brands, only 47% of those brands disclose their manufacturing facilities, and only 27% disclose their wet processing facilities and spinning mills.

In summary, to guarantee fair working conditions, we recommend shopping labels with a fair certification (which includes all of the labels that meet our Fair value on Well Made Clothes), or shopping labels with a transparent supply chain (which includes all of the labels that meet our Transparent value on Well Made Clothes).

When in doubt: ask! If the label has the answers, great! If the label doesn’t, well, there’s probably a reason for that.

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