For every Fair Trade Certified product Patagonia sells, the company will pay a premium directly into a special workers’ fund. The workers will decide collectively how to spend this fund, based on what they deem to be their community’s greatest needs: from scholarships and disaster relief funds, to medical care and transportation. Workers can also vote to take the Fair Trade premium dollars as a cash bonus, which can be equivalent to an entire month’s salary or more.
“Offering Fair Trade products is an important new tool for us to help ensure fair wages and workplace safety for the workers in the supply chain who sew Patagonia clothes,” says Clara Chacon, Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility for Patagonia. “We are also empowering the people purchasing our products. This effort is part of a larger strategy to raise awareness with our customers on how they can make a difference in the world with their purchasing decisions.”
“Patagonia’s ground breaking commitment to Fair Trade apparel marks a significant turning point for the apparel industry as a whole,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “They’re showing the world that style and ethics don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and that transparency, sustainability and good business go hand in hand.”
Patagonia’s Fair Trade Certified products will be made in factories monitored and certified by Fair Trade USA under their strict social and environmental standards. Consumers will have independently verified and transparent assurance that the Fair Trade Certified products they buy are made under safe working conditions, where workers have a voice and earn a fair wage.
Fair Trade is a market-based approach to poverty alleviation and sustainable development which offers incentives to factories for complying with strict social, economic and environmental criteria. Most widely known as a certification for coffee or chocolate, Fair Trade USA has spent the past three years developing an apparel standard certification program that has the potential to dramatically change the entire manufacturing industry for the better.
Deeply committed to social and environmental responsibility, Patagonia is a proud founding member of the Fair Labor Association. In 2007, the company redefined corporate supply chain transparency through their website Footprint Chronicles.