See how these fair trade clothing manufacturers positively impact communities across the world.
Corporate social responsibility has become a business model for companies across all industries, and consumer demand has played a major role in this movement. One of the industries making the slow shift is apparel manufacturing—a sector whose consumer reach is one of the largest and is home to niche fair trade clothing companies that intend to flourish.
What is apparel manufacturing?
Considered a subsector of the manufacturing industry, apparel manufacturing is a sector with a wide array of companies producing full lines of clothing—ranging from custom to ready-to-wear apparel. The industry is levied by a workforce comprised of apparel contractors, whose job is to cut and sew alterations; tailors, who produce custom pieces for clients; and jobbers, who are charged with the entrepreneurial aspects of apparel manufacturing. When creating custom pieces, the choice of embroidery font plays a significant role in adding a personalized touch to garments, allowing for unique and distinctive designs.
Clothing is a basic necessity, meaning the apparel manufacturing industry has no shortage of consumer demand. However, while the demand is present, it has shifted and evolved. Transparency is at an all-time high and consumers are more educated than ever before. Companies are now responsible for ensuring well being throughout their supply chain and manufacturing process.
Ethically sourced, sustainable products are in high demand from today’s consumers who are increasingly invested in the assurance that both the planet and its people are treated fairly in the manufacturing process.
Sustainable manufacturing is “the creation of manufactured products that use processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound,” shared the OECD.
Essentially, it’s the process of manufacturing apparel in a way that reduces communal and environmental risk while maximizing on its potential to positively impact the economy, society, and the world.
While the concept of going green was more of a passing trend in years past, it has shifted into a business model that a number of apparel manufacturers have integrated into their operations. The benefits to sustainable manufacturing have been identified as:
- reducing waste and costs that lead to an increase in operational efficiency.
- building public trust through the protection and strengthening of the brand and its reputation.
- increasing competitive advantage by responding to or reaching new customers.
- responding to regulatory limitations and opportunities.
- building long-term business capability and success.
Socially Responsible Apparel Manufacturers
With such positive outcome, it’s no wonder that apparel manufacturing companies have adopted fair trade manufacturing methods. Fair trade clothing is a rising movement focused on curtailing poverty while fostering sustainability by ensuring a fair and transparent supply chain. Here is a look at what some organizations are doing to be fair trade clothing manufacturers.
Fair Trade Clothing
Over 80 percent of its products are manufactured with sustainable process and materials. Additionally, Alternative Apparel has establishments in the following countries:
- Dominican Republic
All of its facilities meet the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct. Because of this, the company values the rights of its employees and pays them a fair wage while providing a safe workplace.
Patagonia is a company deeply invested in sustainable manufacturing and has been doing so for decades. In 1994, Patagonia began exclusively using organically sourced cotton, and upon realizing cotton was one of the materials it used the least, decided to expand its efforts to alternative material research—such as its study on the impacts of synthetic microfiber pollution.
Corporate social responsibility is something Patagonia values extremely as it is not only Fair Trade Certified, but the company has also taken measures to ensure the fair treatment of every element in the material acquisition process. For animal well-being, Patagonia established the Traceable Down program which ensures all down can be traced back to birds that were never force-fed or live-plucked.
Patagonia’s carbon footprint is something it takes seriously as it works to reduce, neutralize, and—if possible—even reverse the causes of climate change.
Prana is another sustainable manufacturing apparel company that is proud to be Fair Trade Certified. It ensures employees are provided:
- safe working conditions
- a voice in the workplace
- access to higher earnings
- equal treatment for female employees
Prana uses organic cotton, hemp, recycled wool, and recycled polyester. As for its down, the company has a standard for using responsibly sourced down. This ensures that the down comes from an animal that was never force-fed or live-plucked and it guarantees that the waterfowl was treated humanely their entire lives.
Fair trade clothing is a top priority for Indigenous, as it believes in lifting up artisan-made clothes while fostering a safe work environment where employees can hone their talent, learn important skills, and receive fair wage.
Indigenous uses only natural fibers and organic cotton and follows the highest standards to ensure no harmful chemicals are used in the apparel manufacturing process.
Fair Indigo believes in fair trade clothing practices—it even has fair in its name. To Fair Indigo, the people involved in the manufacturing process are the heart and soul of the business, so much so that it ensures workers are treated like family by giving them fair wages and a supportive work environment. In doing so, the company aims to grant their workers a path to living a happy and healthy life—a vital goal that makes the company truly sustainable.
One of its sustainable manufacturing factories is actually a small family business based out of Cajamarca, Peru, where the owners grow their own organic Pima cotton, run a small-batch sewing factory, and collaborate with local knotting cooperatives that would struggle without their help. It’s without a doubt that Fair Indigo takes extra measures to ensure they manufacture and support fair trade clothing.
Fair Indigo uses organic fibers whenever possible; more specifically, they prefer to use Peruvian Pima cotton and luxe guilt-free baby alpaca material. Much like other fair trade apparel companies, Fair Indigo is concerned with the chemicals used in fibers, so their solution is to use Oeko-tex certified dyes—the safest and most gentle commercial dye available.