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Fair Trade Pays

More than 42,000 workers have benefitted from Patagonia’s commitment to the Fair Trade Certified™ program.

You may be familiar with the “Fair Trade Certified” symbol and its assurance that some of the money spent on a bag of coffee or bar of chocolate goes directly to its producers and stays in their community. Patagonia, in partnership with Fair Trade USA, has been making clothes that provide the same benefit since 2014, and today, we are proud to offer more Fair Trade products than any other apparel brand.

This is how it works: We pay a premium for every Patagonia item that carries the Fair Trade Certified™ label. That extra money goes directly to the workers at the factory, and they decide how to spend it. This is not a top-down program. In each factory, a democratically elected Fair Trade worker committee decides how the funds will be used. Workers have chosen to use the premiums to fund community projects, like health care programs or a child care center; to purchase products they could otherwise not afford, like a TV or a stove; or to take a cash bonus.

But that’s not all. The program also promotes worker health and safety as well as social and environmental compliance and encourages dialogue between workers and management. For example, upon learning that Fair Trade committee members were considering spending some of their premium to build a cooking facility, management at Pratibha Syntex, one of our supplier factories in India, recognized it as something they should provide and paid for the new kitchen from company funds.

For Patagonia, Fair Trade is our first step on the path toward paying living wages in our supply chain. We don’t own any of the factories that make our products, so we have limited control over how much workers receive. Through Fair Trade, we can supplement workers’ wages and provide them with tangible benefits that improve their lives.

For our customers, Fair Trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world. By choosing to purchase a Fair Trade garment, you are casting a vote for good values, an all too rare opportunity in our global economy.

What makes a factory Fair Trade Certified?

  • Rigorous standards for health and safety
  • Respect for the environment
  • No child or forced labour
  • Maternity and paid leave
  • Community empowerment
  • Additional money back to workers

“The benefits of the program have exceeded our expectations,” says Thuy Nguyen, the Patagonia 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.”