THEODORE KAYE

CLOTHING THAT’S IMPROVING LIVES
OUR FIRST FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED™ CLOTHING OFFERS WORKERS AND CUSTOMERS SOMETHING BETTER

In an attempt to improve the lives of the workers who make our products, in May 2014 we began selling Fair Trade Certified™ apparel. Though we started small with 10 women’s sportswear styles sewn in three factories in India owned by Pratibha, this is a big move for our company.

Garment workers are paid some of the world’s lowest industrial wages and in many cases have little hope of getting ahead. Fair Trade can make a difference.

You’ve probably seen the Fair Trade label on some of the products you buy, but may be unclear as to what it actually stands for. With clothing, Fair Trade means apparel workers can improve their livelihoods and you get great products 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.

Fair Trade USA works to improve the lives of farmers and factory workers around the world through trade, not aid. It uses a market-based approach that ensures workers receive fair compensation for their labor, helps create safe working conditions and safeguards against the use of child labor.

For every Fair Trade Certified item Patagonia buys from Pratibha, we pay a Community Development Premium determined by Fair Trade USA. The money goes into an account that is controlled by the workers who decide how best to use it. The funds are specifically designated for social, economic and environmental development projects. Workers may choose to use the money to distribute as a bonus, help build a school or a health clinic, create a scholarship or invest in some other aspect of their community.

All 4,000 workers in the factories that make our Fair Trade Certified clothing benefit from the funds, whether they work on Patagonia orders or not. The clothes are certified by Fair Trade USA for the sewing factory only – not the cotton growing or manufacture of the fabric. We intend to add 33 more styles in spring 2015, and also begin using Fair Trade Certified cotton. We hope to add more factories and farms in future seasons.

Today we have joined the ranks along with more than 800 brands that have returned some $155 million in premiums to producers through Fair Trade Certified products.

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 want to improve their lives. We have a long way to go and much to learn. Patagonia is proud to partner with Fair Trade USA and Pratibha in a program we hope we can build on.

Visit fairtradeusa.org to learn more.