Tuesday, 4 April 2017

More than 40 million people are directly involved in the global textile manufacturing industry and many are living in the poorest parts of the world. It is no secret that working conditions and wages are often inhumane and unacceptable; frequent news headlines and tragedies in factories remind the world about the dangers these workers face.

Global outdoor and apparel retailer, Patagonia's supply chain involves nearly 75 factories and more than 100,000 workers worldwide. As a complement to Patagonia's own robust factory monitoring program, the company has partnered with Fair Trade USA, an organisation that has developed a well-established program for ensuring products are made in factories and farms where workers are safe, treated with respect and paid fair compensation for their labor.

The premise is simple: for every product made by a Fair Trade Certified factory, companies such as Patagonia choose to pay an additional premium that workers can use to elevate their standard of living and bridge the gap between a minimum wage and a living wage. A worker-elected committee votes on how to spend the money – either as a cash bonus or to pay for social, economic and environmental community projects.

To help improve the lives of factory workers, Patagonia, the largest supplier of apparel made in Fair Trade Certified™ factories, has quickly scaled its Fair Trade program from one factory and 11 styles in Autumn 2014 to six factories and 218 styles available globally from April 2017.


Since 2014, Patagonia has paid $639,000 in premiums that go directly to the workers making its apparel. By Spring 2017, Patagonia expects to manufacture 300 styles – approximately one-third of its products – in Fair Trade Certified factories. Patagonia is one of more than 1,000 companies representing 30 product categories that sell Fair Trade Certified products.

In Patagonia's mission to use business to do good and lead the way for transparency in the outdoor industry, it is making it easier for other apparel companies to make products in Fair Trade Certified factories. Once a factory is certified, any other company that wants to make Fair Trade products in that Factory simply has to pay the additional Fair Trade premium.

Rose Marcario, Patagonia's President and CEO says, "Fair Trade USA's approach has proven it contributes to a better standard of living, including pay and employee participation in the workplace and community. It also helps create better working-conditions and safeguards against the use of child labor. One last benefit falls not to the workers, the factory or Patagonia as a brand, but to the customer 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."

Working with Patagonia locally on sharing the Fair Trade story is renowned Australian free surfer and activist, Dave Rastovich, who recently visited Patagonia's Fair Trade Certified factories in Sri Lanka with fellow brand ambassador and surfer, Belinda Baggs.

Rastovich, who has also partnered with Surf Aid International for the last 15 years to work in remote Indonesia and better the living conditions for isolated communities said, "Working with Patagonia is incredible – their mission statement says it all: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

"I like how Fair Trade is a disruptor. It's a voice standing up to a big bully of an industry. As a surfer, that idea of being anti-establishment and pissed off at the system really sits well with me. Fair Trade lets us take that frustration and do something to actually better the system," Rastovich adds.

About Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organisation that promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers; protects fragile ecosystems; and builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label signifies that rigorous standards have been met in the production, trade and promotion of Fair Trade products from over 80 countries across the globe.

Recognised as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiatives, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also provides critical capacity-building programs at origin, and educates consumers about the power of their purchase.
Visit FAIR TRADE USA for more information


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