Why We Wear Fair Trade

Today and Every Day
Apr 24, 2017 1:00 PM ET

What we wear matters. When we wear it matters too.

This Fashion Revolution Day, on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy, We Wear Fair Trade to join a global conversation about the people who make our clothes. We also wear Fair Trade to highlight the movers and shakers of the fashion industry--the thought leaders, CEOs, designers and athletes--who are working hard to do things differently.

In the words of famed surfer and Patagonia ambassador Dave Rastovich, “Our clothes have always had stories--they just weren’t always ones we were proud to tell.”

Telling a New Story

When the factory in Bangladesh collapsed on April 24th, 2013, over 1,100 garment workers lost their lives. They were making clothes that many of us wear everyday. This story of unsafe conditions, along with countless others of low pay, harmful chemicals, and exploitation, shouldn’t be the ones we have to tell.  

There are a growing number of people (makers, sellers, buyers and wearers of clothes) that are helping to improve the way our apparel is made.

We want to recognize just a few of those individuals and brands, and have asked them to wear their favorite Fair Trade Certified™ apparel. Captured by well-known photographer and subject of the film 180 South, Jeff Johnson, these portraits put a spotlight on the proud, the entrepreneurial, innovative, trailblazing leaders that are shaping this new world through Fair Trade.

We Wear Fair Trade

Wearing Fair Trade for Patagonia

“One important benefit of Fair Trade falls not to the workers, the factory or Patagonia as a brand, but to the consumer who buys a Fair Trade Certified garment: every purchase is a vote, with the pocketbook, for good values, an all too rare opportunity in our global economy.” – Rose Marcario

Patagonia is truly out to change the industry. After launching with 10 Fair Trade styles in 2014, they now have 286 different Certified products. That 30% of their entire line. They were also the first brand to offer Fair Trade Certified™ swimwear. 100% of their bikinis and board shorts are now made in Fair Trade facilities.

Patagonia’s Fair Trade products support workers in Certified factories from Hirdaramani in Sri Lanka to Nature USA in Los Angeles, California.

Wearing Fair Trade for prAna

"I want the girls and women in my programs to feel acknowledged; to feel valued and appreciated, and to know that they hold an important place in this world. That's exactly the way I want the people who make my clothes to feel and why I'm an ambassador for Fair Trade." - Kelly Potts

prAna was the very first brand to launch Fair Trade Certified™ apparel back when the program was just a pilot in 2010. Beginning at one Fair Trade factory in India to make the Sol Tee, prAna now impacts the lives of thousands of workers around the world through their Fair Trade purchases.

Wearing Fair Trade for Outerknown

"We created Outerknown to smash the formula. To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove you can actually produce great looking clothing in a sustainable way." – Kelly Slater

Outerknown was founded by 11 time World Surf League Champion Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore to make clothing that respects the environment and the people in their global manufacturing community. They launched their first Fair Trade line in early 2017- a collection of responsibly sourced, casual menswear from Hong Ho, a Fair Trade facility in Mexico. Workers there are just about to receive their first Fair Trade Premium Funds to improve their communities.

Wearing Fair Trade for Obey

"Social responsibility and justice have always been important to Obey in both message and practice. A longstanding challenge for us has been how to bring high quality clothing to our customers at an affordable price while adhering to our moral code from a human labor standpoint. We have always researched diligently and chosen to work with manufacturers who provide ethical working conditions, and made the further step to become an official Fair Trade USA partner. Our hope is not only to benefit the workers in our Fair Trade factories, but also to lead by example and promote the expansion of the Fair Trade program." - Shepard Fairey

Obey’s first Fair Trade products launched in 2015, and the brand is continuing to expand their offerings each year. Each purchase helps workers at their factories in India enjoy safe, healthy working conditions and earn additional funds with every sale.  

Wearing Fair Trade for Athleta

"Supporting women in their ability to come together to reach their full potential is core to our brand. Partnering with Fair Trade USA is an important and natural step in directly enabling the women who create Athleta clothes to positively affect their communities and families." - Nancy Green

In January 2017, Athleta introduced its first Fair Trade Certified™ assortment with more than 40 styles in the spring collection, and will offer nearly 100 by the end of 2017.  The debut styles are produced at a newly Certified facility in Sri Lanka, where, the predominantly female workforce will collectively invest the financial premiums they earn into the needs of their communities.

Who Made My clothes

By wearing Fair Trade, today and every day, we make a bold, collective commitment to the people who make our clothes.  

The Road Ahead

Thank you to these individuals and companies who have recognized that responsibility and profitability can, and must, go hand in hand. Together we’re taking on the long road ahead, step by step, creating a new normal to be proud of.

Elise Segars
Fair Trade USA