What is fair trade and how does it work?
What is fair trade? Well, there’s a good ethical fashion question. The problem is it depends on who you speak to about fair trade and fair trade clothing. There are so many interpretations and that is half the problem in the fashion industry hence why so many people challenge ethical fashion.
In today’s market so many organisations especially the big ones want to be seen to be doing the right thing and that’s where the green washing comes in.
Well it’s where a company portrays itself to be green or selling fair trade clothing product however when you lift up the carpet that is clearly not the case.
What is fair trade fashion to us at Fresh Cargo? Well our stand is fair trade or ethical fashion is built on simple values and guided by the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation).
The key is how you work with the suppliers to create fair trade clothing. Too many organisations expect workers to be paid and treated fairly however they have no consideration towards the owner in order to create ethical fashion.
Less ethical organisations will place pressure on the owner to produce goods at unrealistic prices and this can cause them to cut corners.
So let’s start at the beginning in trying to understand ethical fashion and look at the classical term.
The classical term of what is fair trade is the following:
“It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards”.
However we think we could extend this and add a bit more detail on what is fair trade
Fresh Cargo definition of “What is fair trade?”
What is fair trade? It’s a about balance, it’s about being fair to the owner and to the workers hence the first stage is:
Allowing the organisation to have the free will to choose the price that is deemed fair to their organisation in order to make a reasonable profit.
Ok, great but how do you know they are not going to give you any old price in a desperation to win the business? Good point.
What is fair trade “Working in Partnership”
We work in partnership and examine the books as well as the cost base to ascertain if the price is not only fair but sustainable. At the end of the day we want these people in business long term and providing further jobs for people in their community.
Some told us that in these tough times there are only two types of retailers; morally bankrupt and bankrupt. We don’t believe this otherwise we would not be fighting for change to create fairness for all and in all honesty there are some great independents and retails chains, take Lush for example a great British retailer.
What is fair trade “ensuring workers are paid fairly”?
When trading with co-operatives or small organisations we ensure the following
Workers are paid fairly
Allowing them to have the funds for the following:
Alongside room for
What is fair trade “protecting and improving workers rights”?
We also have to ensure protections are in place the basics that you and I may take for granted in the work place to ensure fair trade clothing is being made.
- Health and safety
- Employments contracts
- Grievance procedures
- Employment slips
- Copies of birth certificates and passports
To ensure we are creating ethical fashion we have to go beyond a handshake, it’s about total transparency right from supplier to customer.
What is fair trade “Helping to make your suppliers sustainable”?
We are great believers in trade not aid as it offers long term sustainability but in many of the developing countries there is a mentality of Fordism.
Like Henry Ford and his cars at one time he offered everyone a black car. Many producers create the same product year in and year out and this is not ideal especially in fashion let alone ethical fashion so we work with these people to show them a different way.
We offer fashion forecasting, assist with sourcing of materials and a lot of the time we will design products for them.
This creates more sustainability and exciting products for our customers hence to date we are proud to say we still have the same supplier groups when we founded the company and have enjoyed watching them grow as well as us growing.
So in summary what is fair trade?
- Working in partnership with supplier groups
- Ensuring workers are paid fairly
- Protecting and improving workers rights
- Supporting suppliers to make them more sustainable
We really hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any feedback please drop us a line as we are always looking to improve.