Fair Trade Certified™ Products
In an attempt to improve the lives of the workers who make our products, in May 2014 we began selling Fair Trade Certified™ apparel. We started small with ten women’s sportswear styles sewn in three factories in India owned by Pratibha Syntex. As of spring 2015, we offer 33 styles–21 made in a Fair Trade Certified sewing facility and 12 made with Fair Trade Certified cotton.
You’ve probably seen the Fair Trade label on some of the products you buy, but may be unclear what it stands for. With clothing, Fair Trade means cotton farmers and apparel factory workers can improve their livelihoods, and you get great products grown and sewn with care.
Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. The organization first started working with coffee growers in Latin America 15 years ago to help them secure a fair price for their harvests. It has since expanded its program to include a variety of food products, body-care items, spirits and apparel. Patagonia joins more than 800 brands to sell Fair Trade Certified products that have returned some $155 million in premiums to workers.
Fair Trade USA works to improve the lives of farmers and factory workers around the world through trade, not aid. Its market-based approach ensures workers receive fair compensation for their labor, helps to create safe working conditions and safeguards against the use of child labor.
For every Fair Trade Certified item produced for Patagonia, we pay a community-development premium. The money goes into an account controlled by the cooperative of farmers or association of factory workers who decide how best to use it. The funds are designated for social, economic and environmental development projects. For example, cotton farmers may choose to use the money for agricultural improvements, rainwater catchment systems or to build a school or a health clinic. Workers in Fair Trade factories may invest in healthcare for their children, bicycles for easier transit to and from work or a cash bonus.
All workers in the factories and farms that make our Fair Trade Certified clothing benefit from the funds, whether they work directly on Patagonia products or not. We continue to grow our program and have already added more factories to future seasons.
This initiative is one of several we’re taking to improve the lives of all people who make Patagonia products. As a first step, in early 2013, we also strengthened our code of conduct–which outlines responsible practices for our supply chain–to include a living-wage component and have implemented policies to consider the living-wage rate in our costing formulas. These efforts are part of short-, medium- and long-term strategies to address fair wages in our supply chain.
All of these programs begin to turn our commitment to workers into tangible action, enabling them to choose how they can best improve their lives. We have a long way to go and much to learn. Patagonia is proud to partner with Fair Trade USA and supply chain partners in a program we hope we can build on.