Patagonia has been leading the way in responsible business practices, from encouraging their customers to buy less to increasing the transparency of their supply chain, and now they’re taking it a step further by also directly supporting fair trade in their clothing lines.
Beginning in the fall of 2014, Patagonia will be offering Fair Trade Certified™ apparel, starting with nine styles, and with any luck, expanding that through customer demand.
“For every Fair Trade Certified product Patagonia sells, the company will pay a premium directly into a special workers’ fund. The workers will decide collectively how to spend this fund, based on what they deem to be their community’s greatest needs: from scholarships and disaster relief funds, to medical care and transportation. Workers can also vote to take the Fair Trade premium dollars as a cash bonus, which can be equivalent to an entire month’s salary or more.” – Fair Trade USA
The products that will be offered under Patagonia’s Fair Trade Certified program will come from clothing factories that are monitored and certified by Fair Trade USA, so that customers have the assurance that these items are made by workers earning a fair wage and in safe working conditions.
This initiative could lead the fashion industry to increase their support for fair trade, by demonstrating that sustainability and transparency are good for business, and putting their money where their mouth is in combining style and ethics in apparel.
“Offering Fair Trade products is an important new tool for us to help ensure fair wages and workplace safety for the workers in the supply chain who sew Patagonia clothes. We are also empowering the people purchasing our products. This effort is part of a larger strategy to raise awareness with our customers on how they can make a difference in the world with their purchasing decisions.” – Cara Chacon, Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility for Patagonia
Here’s a little bit more about Patagonia’s corporate responsibility programs: