Blog on Fair Trade in Textiles

What is Textile Fair Trade?

Fair Trade. The name and principle are certainly familiar, but what does Fair Trade really mean in practice when it comes to textiles and clothing?

Fair Trade is an organization that works for fair world trade, supports sustainable development and maintains the criteria for responsible production for the certified Fair Trade brand.

Principles of fair trade


The criteria combine social, economic and environmental aspects. There is a separate, sector-specific guideline for the production of textiles.

You can get a Fair Trade label cotton as a material, or garment, made from Fair Trade cotton or other sustainably produced material that meets fairness criteria. 

Fair trade cotton improves the position of farmers and develops more environmentally friendly farming

Cotton growing is a source of income for rural communities in many developing countries. However, in the face of fluctuations in world market prices, income is volatile and does not always cover costs. Small farmers are in the most difficult position and child labor is widespread due to poverty.

Fair trade supports farmers and promotes more environmentally friendly farming methods. Fair trade farmers form cooperatives, which improves the position of small farmers in competition with large companies. Fair Trade pays a guaranteed price for cotton, as well as a Fair Trade supplement that will be used by the cooperative. The child labor prohibited by the criteria will be replaced by an increase in income.

The criteria also include strict environmental regulations. Fair trade trains and supports farmers, among other things, to reduce the use of chemicals and water and sopto adapt to a changing climate. The methods protect nature and the climate, as well as the farmers themselves.

Fair trade cotton brand (Fair Trade Cotton) says that all the cotton used in the product is cultivated Fair trade criteria in accordance with. Cotton is traceable throughout the certified production chain and all actors in the chain are directed to fairer trade.

Fair trade standard for textiles

Fair trade has also set separate criteria for the production of textiles from the field onwards, throughout the production chain. Fairtrade Textile Standardcovers workers at all stages of production, including spinning mills, weaving mills, cutting plants, sewing shops and finishing stages. Thus, the entire product can receive the Fair Trade label if its manufacturer / producer has entered into an agreement with the Fair Trade organization and strict criteria are followed throughout the production chain.

Fairtrade products can be either 100% Fairtrade cotton, or combined with other fibers. Fair trade also lists others responsible materials, from which Fair Trade products can be manufactured in accordance with the Textile Standard criteria. 

People Tree products have the Fair Trade label

Upcycler's range includes tencel products, the material of which has been manufactured by Lenzing Group, which has been assessed as responsible by Fair Trade.

The requirement in Fair Trade is that work brings a decent standard of living to its perpetrators, ways to break out of poverty and improve control over their own lives. Overall, the literature is very extensive and detailed. I would like to make a few key points.

Social development

Fair Trade seeks to strengthen the individual development of employees, their knowledge of their own rights and their active role in working life. 

Under 15 years of age employment is prohibited and the company is responsible for ensuring that this is also done by subcontractors. If, for example, schooling is endangered due to work, the minimum age is 18 years.

The textile industry is female-dominated and the criteria pay special attention women training, professional development opportunities, and the eradication of sexual harassment. In addition, the criteria include conditions for the length and salary of maternity leave, as well as breastfeeding breaks.

Attention is also paid to the detailed instructions prevention of discrimination.

The right to organize

Fair trade requires that employees have legal meet, to organize and be represented in collective bargaining.

A living wage

Wages are one of the major drawbacks of the textile industry. In fair trade, employees must be paid at least a living wage.

A living wage refers to a level of income that covers the basic needs of a worker and his or her family — food, housing, health care, clothing, and education and mobility, as well as some leeway for unexpected expenses.

Recommendations for a living wage are set by The Global Living Wage Coalition, of which Fair Trade is a part. 

In addition to salary, the employer must also provide employees with social security. 

Occupational health and safety

Issues related to occupational safety seem obvious to us, but there are also serious safety deficiencies in many textile factories. Fair trade requires ensuring, among other things, construction, fire, chemical safety and safety measures related to the use of machinery.

The employer must also arrange for employees to be free occupational health care.


Companies are required to have an environmental system that assesses and measures environmental damage and emissions.

The environment is understood as work impacts on both the surrounding environment and workers. For example, regulations on the use of harmful chemicals and airborne emissions protect both.

Terms of trade

Problems in the textile industry are caused by price pressures and pressure from product subscribers for rapid production. Both retaliate in the lower stages of production, for example, as low wages, unpaid overtime and endangering work safety. Fair trade conditions require production sufficient time and pay for products a price that allows for a living wage payment to all participants.



fairtrade international

Fair trade


Upcycler range of Fair Trade products

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