I wanted to celebrate this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight with a genuinely useful guide. Food is too easy, and I’ve covered fair trade homewares, so it’s about time I talked about fairly traded fashion!
While the fairtrade mark may be mainly attributed to food, it’s also used in fashion. Fairtrade certification is a great indicator of good human welfare, and as I continue to nurture my interest in ethical and sustainable matters, this is the area that interests me most.
What is Fairtrade Fashion?
Fairtrade certification associated with a piece of clothing or a brand shows that the brand has sourced their materials from a producer that meets strict environmental, labour and development standards, and these have been independently verified. Put simply, fairtrade fashion shows the materials your clothes are made from have been produced in an ethical way.
In 2015, I wrote about the benefits of buying fairtrade. On their website, Fairtrade International says “Our mission is to connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower farmers and workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives.”
In the same post, I also detailed the kinds of products you can find with the certification. It’s important to note that fairtrade certification is given to raw materials (i.e. cotton, gold, silver) rather than individual garments.
My Favourite Fairtrade Pieces
When I started creating this piece, I thought I was a big consumer of fairtrade fashion. That all changed when I started looking at the credentials of my wardrobe… The majority of my pieces are second-hand, or ethically made/certified by different organisations.
So it turns out, the principle fairtrade fashion brand in my wardrobe is People Tree*. My first and favourite piece from them is my little black dress, and they recently gifted me this beautiful blue and white striped shirt*, pair of denim jeans*, and a black wrap skirt*.
As you can tell from my collection, I’ve gone for classic styles. However, People Tree – and the following brands – also create modern and fashion-forward styles to suit everyone.
10 Fairtrade Fashion Brands in the UK
If your main focus when buying ethical fashion is the welfare of people, it’s well worth investing in brands that use fairtrade materials. More often than not, a brand that invests in fairtrade materials will also work with ethical factories – but make sure to do your own research. Here’s my list of fairtrade fashion brands in the UK:
Arthur & Henry: Classic menswear shirts and tailored items made from fairtrade cotton.
Cotton Roots: Simple t-shirts, polo shirts, and other items made from fairtrade cotton.
Ethical Superstore*: Online department store stocking fairtrade-certified fashion brands (although not exclusively).
Fort: Dungarees brand supplied by Fairtrade certified manufacturer Visible Clothing.
Kangawrap: Mother-and-baby wraps made from fairly traded cotton.
Kool Skools: Fairtrade cotton school uniforms as well as a range of 100% recycled polyester.
Little Green Radicals: Organic clothing for babies, toddlers, and children aged 0-8 years.
Noctu: Scandinavian and minimal designed sleepwear for men, women, and kids that’s fairtrade and GOTS certified.
People Tree*: Fair trade cotton clothing made in classic and modern styles for women.
White Stuff*: Fairtrade collection created with Fairtrade International covering bright dresses, tees, and trousers.