Five years ago we started with just a few Fair Trade™ certified styles—today we are proud to offer more Fair Trade styles than any other apparel brand. This means over 50,000 workers have benefited from our commitment to the Fair Trade Certified™ program. We're excited to celebrate five years of partnership with Fair Trade USA and the progress we've made with offering products in every category.
"If the Fair Trade day care didn’t exist, I’d be at home and would never be able to achieve my aspirations."
"Fair Trade honors the workers and gives some of the sales profits to us. I want customers to know that when they buy the products, we also get the profit."
"Fair Trade makes me feel very proud to work with fleece and of the work we’re doing."
Workers at MAS Active–Leisureline in Sri Lanka chose to use their Fair Trade premium to buy essential items, including food, medicine and toiletries.
Employees at Hirdaramani-CKT Apparel in Sri Lanka voted to use their Fair Trade premium to open a free day-care center and implement a health and hygiene program.
Workers who make T-shirts for us at Nature USA in Los Angeles voted to take their Fair Trade premiums as a cash bonus equivalent to 1-2 weeks’ pay.
More than 15,700 workers have benefitted from the premiums Patagonia has paid through the Fair Trade Certified™ program.
Employees at Nature USA in Los Angeles voted to take their share of the money, which equaled up to six days pay, as a cash bonus to pay for such things as healthcare and college tuition for their children. At Hirdaramani in Sri Lanka, workers chose to use theirs to open a daycare center that provides factory workers with free child care, implement a health and sanitation program, and pay for sanitary napkins and undergarments to improve individual hygiene. And workers at MAS Leisureline, also in Sri Lanka, chose store vouchers to buy food, medicine, toiletries and other personal items. (These indirect benefits amounted to two weeks' pay.)
This is how it works: 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. As of July 2017, more than 15,700 people working in factories that make Patagonia clothing have benefited from the program.
Because of its popularity among workers, factory owners and progressively minded customers, and its usefulness to us as a first step to raise workers' wages, Patagonia's participation in Fair Trade has grown rapidly. In 2014, we began by offering 10 Fair Trade clothing styles made in a single factory. By spring 2017, we offered 287 styles made in ten factories—including the world's first full line of Fair Trade Certified board shorts and bikinis. This fall (2017), we're offering customers 480 Fair Trade styles made in 14 different factories.
What makes a factory Fair Trade Certified?
Also of note, most Fair Trade apparel factories are in Asia. But ours is the first apparel company to bring the program to factories in Mexico and the United States. We have also added certified factories in Colombia, Vietnam, Thailand and Nicaragua.
"The benefits of the program have exceeded our expectations," says Thuy Nguyen, manager of social and environmental responsibility who works on the Fair Trade program. "In addition to the premiums raising wages, our factories have reported improved worker morale and engagement. Since workers actively participate in the program, they understand and appreciate what Fair Trade can do. Few social programs have such a sweeping impact."
Patagonia is one of more than 1,000 companies representing 30 product categories that sell Fair Trade Certified products. Since the program began in 1998, farmers and factory workers have earned some $400 million in premiums.