What is the difference between Fairtrade and Fair Wear?
To produce AMWRAP’s clothing, we use a drop-shipping company called Inkthreadable which is local to us in Blackburn, Lancashire. We decided to work with Inkthreadable as they operate under strict ethical and environmentally friendly policies.
Our apparel range is printed by Inkthreadable on garments designed and produced by the Belgian clothing manufacturer Stanley/Stella. The brand embraces Fair Wear Foundation initiatives. 100% of their cotton is certified organic. The other materials that they use are highly ranked on the “sustainability scale”. They are PETA certified, using 100% vegan materials. They work with only a limited number of factories in a limited number of countries.
As it is Fairtrade month we thought we’d explain the difference between Fairtrade and Fair Wear, as the two are commonly confused. Both essentially have the same aim which is to ensure that the people who are producing goods are treated well and paid fairly for their work.
The main difference is that they focus on different ends of the supply chain. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. The Fairtrade Foundation requires companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price) – the aim being to address the injustices of conventional trade which discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. Fairtrade covers a wide range of sectors (e.g. coffee, bananas, cocoa, cotton) and works with those at the very bottom of the supply chain.
The Fair Wear Foundation has a narrower focus, concerned specifically with the production of clothing. Their aim is to see a world where the garment industry supports workers in realising their rights to safe, dignified, properly paid employment. The Fair Wear Foundation focuses on the most labour intensive parts of the supply chain – the manufacturing middle and higher end (as oppose to the lower production end where Fairtrade comes in) - to find answers to problems others think are unsolvable. They partner with brands and support workers and take practical steps to show that it’s possible to make clothes in a fairer way.
So the main difference comes with their focuses on different parts of the supply chain, and that Fairtrade has a much broader remit in terms of the range of goods it covers, whereas Fair Wear only covers the garment industry. It was really important to us to find a clothing brand to use that is Fair Wear accredited. Of course it would be really great if the cotton farmed to produce that clothing was Fairtrade too – and the Fair Wear Foundation works with other organisations that support the rest of the supply chain.