Fair Trade Certified

Fair trade fashion is made by people who are paid fair wages under decent working conditions. Fair trade supports laborers in achieving basic quality of life. The reality is that most fashion factory workers in developing countries (and some in America, too!) do not receive living wages or fair working conditions. Unethical trade and labor practices make it nearly impossible for people to rise above their circumstances.

Millions of Humans Suffer

Have you ever stopped to think about the person whose hands worked with the fabric and thread and buttons and zippers of your garment to create a finished piece? Hearts has, and we don’t like what we see in the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion takes advantage of millions of human beings by subjecting them to scandalously low wages, unsafe working conditions, discrimination, physical and sexual abuse, and even slavery.

  • Low wages: Factory workers in Bangladesh earned £7.16 (about $11.18) a month on average in 2006.[i]
  • Dangerous working conditions: 440,000 people in China now have silicosis, a chronic incurable lung disease. They contracted it while working in unsafe conditions in the textile, mining, tunnelling, stonework, or glass industries.[ii]  
  • Child labor: There are more than 284,000 children in the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana who work in hazardous jobs because their employers think cheap child labor is more important than childhood education.[iii]

Is this a system you want to support?

Fast Fashion Reinforces Unfair Labor

The fast fashion industry depends on factories and production facilities that pump out cheap products. As a whole, the industry doesn’t care how the low costs are achieved. So, factory owners and managers cut corners to stay competitive. The results are unsafe working conditions and rock bottom wages.

Here’s just one illustration of the tragedy of unfair trade in the fashion industry:

  • Between 0.5% and 4% of the retail cost of a garment goes to paying workers’ wages, even though they bear the primary burden for producing those items.[iv]

So the next time you pick up a $2 T-shirt from the sale rack, consider for a moment just how little the person who made that garment was paid if you’re only shelling out $2 (hint: It’s between $0.01 and $0.16).

Transforming the Economy

The fair trade fashion movement began in the 1950s when a growing group of concerned citizens became inspired to help workers who made textiles and handicrafts. They wanted these hard-working people to receive fair wages for creating their beautiful crafts. 

The movement has grown to include several reputable fair trade organizations fighting for human rights and accomplished amazing things. Up to 10% of purchase price for garments made by fair trade companies is paid to the workers, as much as double what they would otherwise earn.[v]

Certified fair trade fashion is made by producers who follow a set of labor and sustainability standards. Various organizations monitor fair trade vendors to ensure sure they uphold those standards. Fair trade labels make it easier for consumers to recognize fair trade clothing and accessories. Labels indicate that the products were made by people who received living wages and safe working conditions.

The good news is that there’s strength in numbers! When consumers band together to support fair trade fashion with our purchasing power, we signal to governments and the global market that we want an economic system that values people. We speak out in favor of justice in the business world.

That’s a shift Hearts is committed to being part of.

To read more about the variety of Fair Trade organizations that promote fair wages, humane working conditions and sustainable trade principles throughout the fashion chain, dive deeper.

Process - Fair Trade Certified - hearts.com.pdf


[i] Rio 2012: what can the fashion industry do to become more sustainable? (2012, January 16). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/fashion-industry-sustainability-strategy

[ii]  Deadly Dust: The Silicosis Epidemic Among Guangdong Jewellery Wrkers and the Defects of China's Occupational Illnesses Prevention and Compensation System. (2005, December). Retrieved April 02, 2012, from China Labour Bulletin: http://www.clb.org.hk/en/files/File/research_reports/Deadly_Dust_Dec2005.pdf

[iii]  Facts and Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2012, from Fair Trade Federation: http://www.fairtradefederation.org/ht/d/sp/i/197/pid/197

[iv]  Rio 2012: what can the fashion industry do to become more sustainable? (2012, January 16). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/fashion-industry-sustainability-strategy

[v]  Fair Trade USA Launches First Ethical Fashion Certification Label . (2010, December 1). Retrieved April 4, 2012, from Fair Trade USA: http://www.fairtradeusa.org/press-room/press_release/fair-trade-usa-launches-first-ethical-fashion-certification-label-0