Fair Trade – does it need to be certified to count?

Pachacuti certified fair trade hatter Andean Collection - members of the Fair Trade Federation El Hombre sobre la Tierra, fairrtade partner of Global Goods Partners Bhava Studio creates limited edition hand-crafted runs JustGIVEGIVE providing sustainable, creative work to women in developing nations Elroy Apparel has their own grassroots project involving a small, cottage-industry sewing cooperative in Indonesia. Ethica, a New York-based online retailer dedicated to high-style ethical fashion

By Kate | Women
Posted May 12, 2013

Here at Magnifeco, we are vocal advocates of Fair Trade. People and their livelihoods are extremely important when we are evaluating brands to feature on this site. In its recent issue, Canadian magazine, Maclean’s published the ‘cost’ breakdown of a $14 shirt and it’s shocking to us that consumers can still feel good about ‘scoring a deal’ or making a ‘haul’ when it is becoming clearer and clearer that the dollars saved at the cash register are directly off the backs of workers miles and continents away.

Yesterday was World Fair Trade day; the day to promote fairness and support fair trade principles, we thought it would be interesting to ask some of our favourite designers working in fair trade to discuss their feelings about fair trade certification and why they get certified or not. Here at Magnifeco we have never required that a designer be certified in order to claim fair trade practices; some designers and e-commerce work incredibly hard to get the certification while others launch without, and the reasons are as diverse as the companies we share with you.

So we sent out this inquiry to several companies whose work we love to support and asked simply: are you certified, why or why not? Here are some of the repsonses -

Certified:

“The benefits for Pachacuti have been significant. Externally audited certification has enabled us to differentiate ourselves in a crowded ethical market. We have been able to experience increased demand from major retailers, particularly in the Japanese luxury market, and a significant growth in our private label work which has only been possible due to quality improvements. Our in-depth supply chain analysis has enabled us to target resources and capacity building activities exactly where our producers most need them in order to improve skills, product quality, health and safety and environmental management, as well as a being able to respond more rapidly to producers’ needs, such as building a nursery last year. Collecting social, environmental and economic indicators and compiling these into an annual Fair Trade report has enabled our staff to see the quantifiable benefits of their work on our producer groups and allowed customers to see the benefits generated by their purchases.” @PachacutiUK - Hatter. Hats designed in Derbyshire, handmade in Ecuador. World’s 1st certified Fair Trade organisation by WFTO & pioneer of supply chain traceability

Fair Trade Federation members:

“If a brand is promoting its ethical labor practices, becoming a member of the Fair Trade Federation is extremely important. In order to be accepted as a member, you first have to go through a rigorous screening process, which I found invaluable in developing an ethical business model. By being an official member, we aren’t just paying lip service to our customers; we’re walking the walk. Membership validates Andean Collection’s commitment to fair trade practices and transparency. Moreover, as a business owner, the Fair Trade Federation is an incredible community and resource for me. The only challenge is that once a business is a member, it has to hold itself accountable in maintaining fair trade rules and regulations. It’s not like the Fair Trade Federation can send inspectors out to every single workshop of every single member. Fortunately, Andean Collection takes accountability very seriously. We have a team on the ground that is charged with maintaining fair trade standards across our artisan workshops. We continuously self-evaluate and invest a lot in artisan well-being surveys and studies. We don’t call ourselves fair trade to be trendy, we want to be fair trade.” @AndeanCollectnDesigned in NYC and handcrafted by artisans in Ecuador, Andean Collection provides a path out of poverty for artisans in disadvantaged communities.

 

“Global Goods Partners (GGP) has long-standing, established relationships with its partners around the globe. Before embarking on a new partnership, GGP vets each potential partner to ensure that artisans receive a fair living wage, promote environmental stewardship, provide safe and healthy working conditions and have a democratic governance structure.  In addition, GGP partners offer not only sustainable jobs and income, but they also provide services ranging from health, education, human rights, and vocational training programs to improve the long-term prospects of the women with whom they work. For us, fair trade is about empowering woman artisans and their families to determine their own futures and make a positive impact in their communities. We welcome the certification process as long as it takes into account the different contexts for production by both rural and urban artisans.” @GlobalGoodsGlobal Goods Partners is dedicated to alleviating poverty by strengthening women led development initiatives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Founders of #FairTuesday

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