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Fashion Revolution Day: Why You Should Wear Fair Trade

Fair Trade
Photograph by Elliot Eliash © 2014 Fair Trade USA
Patagonia. Obey. PrAna. Athleta. Outerknown. Ever heard of them? These companies are some of the best in the business because they believe in quality with every fiber of their being — as well as their apparel. These industry leaders also believe in quality when it comes to living wages and safe living standards for the workers who make their apparel. For Fashion Revolution Day, these five companies stand with Fair Trade USA in a powerful photo campaign that says it loud and clear — We Wear Fair Trade.

Kimi Werner_Patagonia
Kimi Werner, freediver and spearfisher, wearing Patagonia Image used with permission by copyright holder

To provide some background, Fashion Revolution Day is dedicated in remembrance of those who who suffered in the Rana Plaza collapse that occurred on April 24th, 2013. On that day, an eight-story commercial building collapsed, killing 1,129 people and leaving approximately 2,500 injured — most of whom were clothing factory workers. Although cracks were seen forming in the building the day before, garment workers were ordered to continue production until the entire building collapsed. It is important to recount what happened on this day to bring awareness to the sub-standard working conditions and compensation for workers that still exist today.

So what does fair trade mean? Via their website, Fair Trade USA says Fair Trade Certified™ products, “[Are] made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses.” To give you a better idea of what that means, here are some examples of what fair trade means from each of the five partner companies who have come together in their campaign to say, “We Wear Fair Trade.”


Patagonia Representatives Rose Marcario and Dan Malloy
CEO Rose Marcario and pro-surfer, author, & filmmaker Dan Malloy, wearing Patagonia Image used with permission by copyright holder

“We pay a premium for every Fair Trade Certified™ item that carries our label. That extra money goes directly to the workers at the factory, and they decide how to spend it. But that’s not all. The program also promotes worker health and safety and social and environmental compliance, and encourages dialog between workers and management.”


Shepard Fairey Artist, Activist Wearing Fair Trade for Obey
Shepard Fairey, artist and activist wearing Obey Image used with permission by copyright holder

“For every OBEY Fair Trade Certified™ product sold, a percentage is paid directly to a special fund for the workers that create our goods. They decide collectively how to spend these funds based on the community’s greatest needs: from scholarships and school buses, to medical care and disaster relief services.”


Chris Sharma, Pro Climber and Kelly Potts, Pro Surfer, Youth Mentor Wearing Fair Trade for PrAna
Chris Sharma, pro-climber and Kelly Potts, pro-surfer & youth mentor, wearing PrAna Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Fair Trade standards ensure that garment workers have safe working conditions, a voice in the workplace, higher earnings, and that women are treated equally. Although these rights may seem basic, they are simply not guaranteed in many of the countries where clothing is produced.”


Nancy Green, President and CEO wearing Athleta Image used with permission by copyright holder

“We believe garment workers should be guaranteed basic human rights, and have the opportunity to thrive. That’s why we launched our first Fair Trade Certified™ Factory apparel in 2017.”


Kelly Slater Pro Surfer and John Moore Designer Wearing Fair Trade for Outerknown
Kelly Slater, pro-surfer and John Moore, designer, wearing Outerknown Image used with permission by copyright holder

“For every Fair Trade™ product sold, additional money goes right back to workers who made them. No middlemen, no red tape, just cash back for a job well done. Workers comes together to vote on how to use these profits to empower their lives. They invest in things that strengthen their communities, like childcare, improved transportation, or simply as a bonus to save for a rainy day.”

As a consumer, what can we do to be part of this movement? It’s easy. The best place to start is to buy Fair Trade Certified™ products when the choice is available. Our power to change the industry is to buy — or choose not to buy — based on what we believe is fair. Companies need the consumer and will change their ways if we change ours. As an added bonus, we get to look good while doing it.

We Wear Fair Trade Project Photographed by Jeff Johnson

Hendrik Broekelschen
When not leading active travel adventures around the world -- believe it or not, it's his job -- Hendrik strives to be…
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