Fast Company

TransFair USA Introduces First Fair-Trade Clothing to the U.S.

Fair Trade food? That's old hat. Get ready for Fair Trade Certified clothing, courtesy of TransFair USA. The nonprofit, which is the only third-party fair trade-certifier in the U.S., announced this week that it is launching Fair Trade certification for Apparel and Linens--the first Fair Trade certification for clothing in the country.

The certification covers the whole spectrum of the clothing supply chain, from factories to buyers. TransFair explains the qualifications for certified vendors:

  • Use Fair Trade cotton fiber. A company can either purchase the seed cotton directly from a certified producer group or require that their manufacturer source Fair Trade cotton from those groups.
  • Produce the garments in a factory that meets Fair Trade Certified standards and has been approved by TransFair USA.
  • Purchase products according to Fair Trade terms and agree to pay a 1-10% Fair Trade premium to a worker-controlled fund. The rate of the Fair Trade premium depends on wage levels in the factory and garment workers decide collectively how to spend these funds. Workers may use Fair Trade premiums in many different ways, such as a disaster relief fund for factory workers, a scholarship fund for workers’ children or infrastructure improvements in their local communities.

According to Ecouterre, Hae Now's organic cotton t-shirts and Tompkin's Point's polo shirts will be among the first clothing lines to receive the new certification. Later this year, TransFair will certify tote bags, aprons, women’s sweaters, knit baby clothes, women’s casual wear, and lingerie from over twelve brands.

Once TransFair's clothing certification pilot opens up, we expect that a number of already-ethical clothing brands will join in. You can't beat the perks, after all--Fair Trade is one of the few sustainable certifications that is recognizable to the majority of Americans.

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