All Artful Sonder organic t-shirts are Fair-Wear certified
This quick guide to Fair Trade Fashion is designed to make it easier for you, to choose clothes that are ethically made, and better for the planet. Although some companies make clothes in England, many outsource to poorer countries, because it means that ethical clothes are more affordable. But many sweatshops exist abroad? How do you know that your clothes are made fairly?
Fair Trade simply means that the workers are paid a living wage, and given good working conditions. This means no forced overtime, good breaks and holidays, often free health care and education and no sweatshop labour.
Fair Wear is the main fashion organisation that looks at how clothing is made from farm to shop. And confusingly, there are many different Fair Trade organisations all promising different things (and some supermarkets have jumped ship to create their own). And supermarkets are not known for putting ethics over profit.
So if you are buying new clothes, try to find clothes with the Fair Wear or similar labels. If the company just says that it adheres to the Ethical Trading Initiative, be wary. This is a bit like the ’round table on sustainable palm oil’. It has good intentions, but little legal clout, other than ensuring no child labour. The UN says that companies that employ younger people with good conditions and pay, are often better than those who offer terrible conditions, but ban child labour.
This is because some families depend on children working to feed the family, and if children can’t visit school, working in ethical places where they are treated well, can sometimes be a way to claw themselves out of poverty. It’s not a simple answer. When India prevented all child labour, families needing money turned to informal child employment, which meant worse conditions. So look at companies that ensure proper working conditions/pay and no child labour. If commonplace, all parents could then send their children to school.
Good On You is a good website to bookmark, and it also has an app, if you are out and about on the high street. You can basically look up any brand and it gives you the lowdown on the company’s ethics. This covers Fair Trade, animal welfare, environment etc. Try typing in ‘People Tree’ and ‘Primark’, then read the differences.