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Fair Trade Enters the Fashion World

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Fair Trade Enters the Fashion World

Many consumers are careful to buy coffee, tea, and chocolate that is produced and sold under Fair Trade policies. Now fashion steps into the dance. By reminding ourselves how our clothes are made, we can keep in mind that each of our actions affects someone, somewhere, on this planet. Fair Trade fashion offers an alternative economic model for fashion we can all wear proudly.

Many consumers are careful to buy coffee, tea, and chocolate that is produced and sold under Fair Trade policies. Now fashion steps into the dance.

Sweatshops, which are rampant in the garment industry, exploit millions of people around the world mainly women so we can dress fashionably, yet cheaply.

The 2004 Oxfam report "Trading Away Our Rights" points out that it is women and their families, in the end, who pay the price. "Their labour is contributing to rising global prosperity and to the profits of some of the world's most powerful companies. Women workers are systematically being denied their fair share of the benefits from their labour. Failure to address this injustice will perpetuate a model of globalisation that is failing poor people."

Designers Hear the Call

The cry for help from underpaid workers and exploited producers has now been heard. With the help of many organizations, a code of conduct was established in the Dhaka Declaration of March 18, 2005. Further discussions with other Fair Trade practitioners in the Workshop on Fair Trade Fashion at the International Fair Trade Association international conference took place in Quito, Ecuador in 2005. Fair Trade in fashion is now in!

Celebrity Support

Celebrities such as Chris Martin of the band Coldplay and actor Antonio Banderas support and promote Fair Trade. Other celebrities have gone even further to actually create a free trade clothing line. Ali Hewson and her husband, Bono, along with fashion brand Rogan, created EDUN (edun.ie), a socially conscious clothing collection for men and women.

Since its launch in spring 2005, the company has aimed to bring the issue of sustainable employment to the world of catwalks and high fashion. "I want to be able to buy clothes for me and my family knowing that no one was exploited in the process, from the concept to the finished product on the rails," says Hewson.

Working on the same principle, Loomstate (loomstate.org) believes that everyone benefits when companies act in a socially responsible manner. Like the EDUN brand, Loomstate's goal is to build a business that provides beautiful and wearable clothing, sustainable employment, and stable commercial relationships in developing areas of the world. Their original designs in organic cotton ensure a sustainable future.

By reminding ourselves how our clothes are made, we can keep in mind that each of our actions affects someone, somewhere, on this planet. Fair Trade fashion offers an alternative economic model for fashion we can all wear proudly.

Fair Trade Fashion Rules:

  • pay producers fair prices
  • promote traditional skills
  • support appropriate technology
  • promote rural development
  • make advance payments if needed
  • operate with transparency
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