Want your organic cotton party dress made with fair labor too? Just in time for the holidays, fair trade certified clothing’s finally coming to the U.S. market. Now you no longer have to worry if your pesticide-free top was made via slave-like labor.
Of course, clothing marketed as fair trade has been around for a while — some made by serious fair labor advocates who worked directly with farmers and workers to ensure ethical practices, others simply touted as “fairly made” by shady entrepreneurs taking advantage of the lack of a third-party certification system. Without a certification label, shoppers could ask if the companies were members of the Fair Trade Federation — or just take sometimes-greenwashing companies at their word.
Now, you can just look for the fair trade certification label — which ensures a guaranteed minimum price for cotton farmers, better factory working conditions, fair trade premiums for factory workers (between one and 10 percent of the cost of the garment), and other benefits.
And better yet, five companies already have fair trade-certified lines you can shop from for the holidays!
However, don’t expect to find a hot party dress that’s fair trad-certified this year. So far, the fair trade-certified clothing options cover only the basics — plain T-shirts, hoodies, briefs and boxers. I love the eco-ethical mission of both Maggie’s Organics and Hae Now — and I even like Maggie’s Organics socks — but those two companies basically define what I call the eco-frumpy style. Good and Fair Clothing looks a tad sleeker — but only offers men’s style T-shirts and underwear. I had high hopes for Liberty & Justice, which apparently offers celeb-designed T-shirts, but I wasn’t able to find any to shop for online.
That left me with just Tompkins Point Apparel — which only makes men’s polo shirts! These do look pretty nice though! Maybe the eco-ethical brand will give Lacoste a run for their money. The organic and fair trade-certified shirts cost $50 each.
Options will get better come spring of 2011, when six more apparel companies are expected to start offering fair trade-certified clothes. Do you think you’ll be shopping fair trade fashions for the holidays? Do today’s fair trade fashions look stylish enough for you — or do you too hope for more style and less frump?
Bottom photo: Courtesy of Tompkins Point Apparel