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Fairtrade

  1. The World Fair Trade Organisation
  2. Other associations or federations for fair trade
  3. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation and the Fairtrade mark for cotton

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their lot and have more control over their lives. (Definition by the Fairtrade Foundation)

Fair trade in the fashion sector began within small co-operatives developing textiles and handicrafts, and this has now developed to include fair-trade cotton.

Fairtrade Certification for cotton was launched in the UK in 2005 by The Fairtrade Foundation. (The fairtrade mark only covers the cotton production phase, though companies are required to have a social compliance assessment for the garment production.)

The Fairtrade Mark is now recognised by one in every two adults in the UK. Sales of Fairtrade Certified product are growing at an average of 50% per annum. UK consumers now spend over £384m a year and rising on eco fashion.
(www.co-operativebank.co.uk, Ethical Consumerism Report)

The existing associations or federations for fair trade include WFTO (The World Fair Trade Organisation), EFTA (European Fair Trade Association), and BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops).

More and more fashion businesses are choosing to source to fair trade standards, using fair trade certified cotton or sourcing from organisations which are members of WFTO. Through supporting these companies, consumers can benefit the communities behind them and encourage more companies to source to fair trade standards.

1. The World Fair Trade Organisation

The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) is a global network of fair trade organisations. WFTO’s mission is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through Fair Trade.

WFTO standards include criteria for working conditions, wages, child labour and the environment. These are verified by self-assessment, mutual reviews and external verifications.

There are over 350 Fair Trade Organisations working with WFTO in 70 countries. Many of these organisations specialise in a variety of traditional techniques in textiles, fashion, jewellery and accessories.

Some fashion designers and businesses such as People Tree choose to buy from and work with WFTO members. This is one way of ensuring that the profits from the sales of goods are going directly to the people who make them, and that workers are paid well and treated fairly.

2. Other associations or federations for fair trade

Within Europe there are several organisations to which brands or retailers belong to, for example Commerce Equitable in France, the EFTA (European Fair Trade Association) and in the UK BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops).

Some of these organisations are more developed with respect to monitoring their members than others, so it is always best to check their sites for further information.

There are an increasing number of fashion businesses which call themselves fair trade or have garments which state fairly traded but are not accredited by a body. In some circumstances, they are developing pioneering work with underprivileged groups, however it is important to ask more questions about the fair trade standards they set out and how these are guaranteed.

3. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation and the Fairtrade mark for cotton

The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation is primarily connected to the agricultural industry. Its original aims were to guarantee good standards and wages for farmers. It began by certifying perishable goods like bananas and chocolate, and in 2005 extended this to cotton. This in turn has had an impact on the textile industry. The FLO has created a logo for all the goods they accredit, in written form it is all one word and capital letters i.e. FAIRTRADE. There is also a swirl logo, used on goods to identify them as FAIRTRADE.

The Fairtrade Foundation is the independent non-profit organisation that licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.

Within the clothing and textile industry, the fairtrade mark only covers the cotton production phase, though companies are required to have a social compliance assessment for the garment production, (which is assessed and accredited by external auditors). Moreover, the Fairtrade Foundation is working in partnership with other agencies to develop a comprehensive accreditation for the manufacturing phase.

More information

Useful links

  • The Fairtrade Foundation is the independent non-profit organisation that licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards
    http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

  • Fair trade standards for seed cotton
    www.fairtrade.net

  • In About Fair Trade, The World Fair Trade Organization 10 principles of fair trade
    http://www.wfto.com

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