What Does it Mean to be Fair Trade Certified?
We imagine a world where everyone in the clothing sector is treated fairly - our mission is to be part of that movement by having an ethical clothing company that is a visible example of what it means to bring fairness to the clothing sector.
What does Fair Trade Mean?
Since we began our journey into this sector, one of the most consistent questions we have been asked is, “what does 'fair trade' mean?”
We’re still learning a lot, and don't have all the answers to this incredibly complex topic, but we want to use this space to share some of the lessons we have learned, to make clear what our position is on fair trade, and to explain how we apply this in practice at our own Visible Tailoring Centre.
After we had given away all of our clothes in December 2014, we spent a lot time thinking through what it truly meant to be fair trade. We then outlined some of the challenges of the emerging fair trade sector in our blogs a few years back when went through the process of buying a whole new wardrobe. We’ve even turned this story into a book, “Uncovering the Five Buts of Ethical Clothing”, which will come out later this year.
On one hand, by being a fair trade company we have to focus all our decisions in the same way: 100% directly on what is the fairest outcome. On the other hand, as a company with a focus on both people and profits, we’ve had to navigate the incredibly challenging process of working through various moral dilemmas and truly accessing what “fairness” means while building a profitable business at the same time.
Being “fair” has forced us to make very difficult decisions in deciding who needed to be given promotions and pay raises, who needed to be held more accountable for their actions and even in deciding who may not be the best fit within our company, since missions may not align.
Living Out Our Core Values
We acquired the Visible Tailoring Centre in January 2016 and as new ethical clothing company owners, our first main task was to undertake an evaluation of the company, reviewing the whole organization to make sure we stayed true to our core values - sustainability, fairness, and fun - in all that we do.
Auditing a company through this lens and trying to lay the foundations for long-term sustainability lead to a lot of hard conversations and created some very difficult decisions, which forced us to find systems and structures that were in line with our ethos.
We want to be visible about our pricing, the people behind everything you find on Eternal Creation, and our sister site Visible Clothing, and how our products are made, so we are going to take a deeper dive over the coming weeks. We'll look at what it takes to run a fair trade clothing company, and what fair trade even means.
Ten Principles of Fair Trade
The Visible Tailoring Centre, which makes all items for both Eternal Creation and Visible Clothing, is certified by the Indian Fair Trade Organization. This organization follows the “Ten Principles of Fair Trade” from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). Through our certification, we prove that we abide by and follow the following principles stating that we:
1 : Create Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers.
2 : Are Transparent and Accountable for our Actions.
3 : Have Fair Trade Practices.
4 : Pay a Fair Price.
5 : Ensure no Child Labour and Forced Labour.
6 : Are Committed to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association.
7 : Ensure Good Working Conditions.
8 : Provide Capacity Building, which means we help develop the skills needed for a positive developmental impact.
9 : Promote Fair Trade.
10 : Respect the Environment.
Through our blog, we will review each of these points in more detail and highlight what we do at the Visible Tailoring Centre to act with the highest degree of fairness. We’re learning along the way, so please join us on the journey, and we always love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to contact us anytime.