It’s been three years in the making, but TransFair USA is finally ready to slap its fair-trade seal of approval on clothing. The San Francisco nonprofit, the only third-party fair-trade certifier in the United States, has launched a new fair-trade certification for apparel, the nation’s first to certify both ends of the supply chain: farms and factories. Although fair-trade-certified togs have been available in Europe for years, TransFair’s pilot program marks the first time Americans will be able to identify garments that are not only sustainably produced but also guarantee fair, above-the-market compensation to cotton farmers and garment workers alike.
FAIR TRADE, FAIR LABOR
From now till spring, TransFair will be rolling out its pilot brands, which currently include Tompkins Point Apparel, a new line of organic-cotton men’s polo shirts, and Hae Now, a nascent purveyor of organic-cotton blank tees.
But “fair trade” isn’t the only label making headway into the ethical apparel market. Maggie’s Organics, one of the country’s oldest producers of organic-cotton apparel, is the first manufacturer in the world to sell clothing that is independently certified to a new standard for Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits.
Issued by Scientific Certification Systems, the new fair-labor certification covers ever stage of Maggie’s production chain, from the growing, ginning, and spinning of organic cotton fibers into fabric in Nicaragua, to cutting and sewing clothes in Costa Rica, to screen-printing and warehouse operations in Michigan.