What is Fair Trade and why is it essential in Ethical fashion?

If ‘human rights’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are familiar terms to you then you probably have heard of Fair Trade and why it is so essential as a human value, from production all the way into the hands of the consumer.

Fair Trade is a global movement and action created by a diverse network of producers, stakeholders, companies, advocates and organizations that simply put the wellbeing of people and our planet ahead of profit. It is based on the ‘unwritten laws’ of transparency and respect, meaning that its proponents strive for greater equity in international trade through actively supporting marginalised workers and campaigning for alterations in the regulations of conventional trade. In other words, by choosing to support Fair Trade, “you” actively make a more conscious and ethical choice against unfair labour and human exploitation.

The WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) argues that Fair Trade is more than a movement - it is a vision and a commitment for enterprises to sacrifice profit on the altar of poverty, climate change, gender inequality and human injustice. That is exactly the reason why the WFTO and similar non-profit-organizations have the mission of assessing the big corporations worldwide according to -not only their products - but their entire structure, business model, supply chain and operations management. 

 

What are the principles and values?

When engaging in Fair Trade in a regulated way, enterprises agree on:

  • Fair price: Enterprises must pay a higher price than the standard market rate to the workers which covers the  production cost and it concerns products deriving from developing countries. The FLO (Fair Trade Labelling Organization International) monitors and changes the fair price considering the average cost of production, working conditions and other essential economic factors that arise. 

  • Decent conditions: ‘Decent’ is actually a moderate word to describe something so imperative: safe and healthy conditions for all workers, the ban of forced and child labour as well as workers’ abuse, harassment and discrimination. 

  • Environmental sustainability: As said, Fair Trade does not only put people but also the planet first. Namely, not all the products might be 100% organic, however workers are required to use sustainable practices that protect natural sources and avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides. Waste management, reuse and recycling is also encouraged.

  • Respect of local culture: Enterprises that are pledged on Fair Trade practices are also pledged to respect the culture of the workers in the producing country. From a political aspect that means, instead of forcing the adoption of the latest production techniques, traditional practices are encouraged along with the teaching of new ones so that the countries can keep up their pace with the market’s demands.

 

What does that mean for the Fashion industry?

A report by the British Retail Consortium shows that more than 90% of  garment workers are paid below the national minimum wage. These are very disappointing figures and this is where ethical fashion strikes back: “The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet” says Mary Creagh, chairwoman of Environmental Audit Committee. That being said, ethical fashion brands support fair factory practices: the use of organic textiles like cotton and low-impact dyes and natural fibers and higher quality, against-mass-production manufacturing and improvements on workers’ access to healthcare. Fashion firms taking part in the effort also need to be fair-trade certified and comply with the 10 Principles of Fair Trade

 

From a consumer’s viewpoint

A report from Forbes showed that 60% of millennials prefer certified clothing, however only 37% actually commit to a ‘fair’ purchase. That means, there is a lack of evidence and transparency towards firms’ actual sustainable efforts that can convince consumers that this is not just another buzzword. People love evidence in a world full of text.

How does Kleiderly contribute?

Recycling, upcycling and circular economy thinking will be the solution for the industry and our planet, and this is simply what Kleiderly does. At Kleiderly, we fight the environmental impact of fast fashion by converting the fashion and textile waste into very sustainable material.

To know more about Kleiderly, check our website out.

Sources:

https://fairtrade-advocacy.org/the-fair-trade-movement-2/

https://wfto.com/who-we-are

https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/what-is-fairtrade/work-for-us/values-and-culture/

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/ALDC/Trade-and-poverty.aspx

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/climate-change/

https://sur.conectas.org/en/trade-human-rights-towards-coherence/

https://www.flocert.net/glossary/fairtrade-international-fairtrade-labelling-organizations-international-e-v/

https://sewport.com/learn/fair-trade-clothing#:~:text=Fair%20trade%2C%20simply%20put%2C%20describes,pricing%20and%20better%20working%20conditions

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviapinnock/2018/05/29/the-problem-with-the-term-ethical-fashion/#5f07a964c89d

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