Fair trade means exactly what these two words imply, trading among people in a fair way. But why is it necessary to include the word “fair”? sadly due to colonization and other details of history, trading has been until now very unfair, to say the least. With globalization and the internet, we are now aware that poorer countries are being exploited for their resources and cheap labor. Therefore “fair” became the keyword to start solving some of the issues of global trade. That’s why you might have already heard of fair trade chocolate and bananas, but fair trade fashion?
What is fair trade fashion?
In the chain of chocolate production, cocoa farmers have gained a lot of attention and are at the center of the fair trade initiative to provide them with fair salaries and working conditions. Consequently, fair trade edibles, is now a common topic. A lot of people understand the concept and they buy more products with this background. Trading in the fashion industry today, has similar issues to the ones of chocolate production. News like the collapsing factory in Bangladesh, serve as a sad example of the already known injustices that big fashion brands provoke in the world and allow us to see how complicated of a production chain there is in this industry. We know of low pay factory workers, but we don’t know about the people who design the clothes or who get affected by the waist of this industry. Therefore, applying the fair trade ideas of the chocolate industry, about acknowledging the responsibility of the big company names and making them care for the integrity of people they hire overseas, is something that brands need to strive for.
Why is fair trade fashion so important?
Because the global impact of the fashion industry is huge, as it is in the top 10 of most important industries around the globe. This gives you an idea of the power that big fashion corporations have in the way trading is done. If this industry moves in the direction of fair trade, others will too. Therefore, we gathered 5 reasons to give you an idea of the impact this industry has and why fair trade in this industry is vital to global progress.
#1 The fashion Industry Employs Millions
Did you know that the fashion industry employs about 75 million people around the world?
If we put it together, this could be a single country of people working on all the aspects of fashion! This can be wonderful if the people involved are happy and conscious, but it is sadly not the case. Therefore, trading fairly in fashion can help change the life of millions of people.
#2 It is an International Industry
It is no secret that nowadays you can buy clothes from one store in your country and if you go abroad you can buy from the same store if you wish to. But have you thought of the mechanics behind it?
The name of a company belongs to one country, they pay taxes there. The physical store is in another country, they pay rent there. The workers who sew garments are located somewhere else; they get paid in a different currency with different regulations to the country of the store’s location or the shop’s name.
Which means that fashion companies trade globally in different areas of trading. They employ people in exchange for new markets, they offer jobs and purchase materials exchange for money. A lot of trade or exchange happens in uncountable countries involved. This gives the fashion industry a huge opportunity to influence the way trading is done around the globe, a shift in this industry can have positive impact in the regulations of many countries and the way they trade among themselves.
#3 The Environmental Impact is Enormous
As the size and reach of the fashion industry expands worldwide, its effects in the environment become global issues. High water consumption and pollution, heavy use of chemicals in cotton farming, high greenhouse gases emissions, soil degradation or rain forest destruction. Are some of the terrible effects of unconscious production and unfair trading. (If you would like to check some statistics, click here)
If influential companies incorporate fair trade ideals into their core values, the environment will not take such a big hit from their success. Because with sustainable fashion there is no need to destroy the environment, as the wellbeing of humans is not separated from the wellbeing of mother earth.
#4 Its Marketing Power is Grand
The most renown brands around the world are arguably from the fashion industry and this is all thanks to marketing. The job of marketers has been extremely successful when it comes to spreading trends around the globe. That is why a model can get internationally famous or a pair of sneakers can be sold in many countries. Simply put, this is an amazing power, to be able to influence the way people buy is to be able to influence people’s minds. Thus, if this great power is put to good use, unfair practices and even body image could switch from destructive to enlightening.
#5 Employs a Wide Variety of Professionals
When we purchase something in a big store, there are many people behind it: the designer, the producer or sewer, the photographer, the stylists or makeup artists, an intern, an assistants, the transporter, the accountant, the store manager, the clerk and so on.
In the fashion industry there is a need for a wide variety of knowledge and skills, however many people who work in this industry are paid unfairly and their work is not recognized, we have already mention the sad cases of people working on sweatshops that are widely known but there is sadly such thing as skilled labor exploitation (to know more click here). As one of the fair trade ideals is to achieve fair pay to workers in an industry; if companies working in fashion would work from this perspective, these fair wages would help achieve equality nationally and internationally.
So why did we choose to be part of the fashion industry
and why do we sell accessories instead of clothing?
After all the reasons we exposed in this article, but especially because of the last one, we think we can use the fashion industry to achieve equality. We believe that fashion is a type of art that connects the world, it allows creativity to travel from one culture to the other and engages almost everyone. But we decided that clothing was a market with too many competitors and that fast fashion is something we would not like to be part of. Thus, accessories and functional objects that have long lasting lives, do represent our core values and align with our wish to offer you a fair trade kind of fashion.
Let’s acknowledge the power of the fashion industry and demand from companies who work in it, to incorporate fair trade into their values, because the impact it could have could help solve many global concerns.