In the past couple of months we have seen the issues of human rights, equality and respect coming to the fore of conversations, protests and headlines. Within this climate Fair Trade Fortnight has a particular relevance.
Fair Trade is all about respecting workers and demanding that their rights are protected. It is about doing fair and honest business where no one is exploited. And before you ask, no it is not just about bananas, chocolate and coffee. Fair Trade Fashion has an important role to play.
Our favourite New Zealand brand Kowtow, is a brilliant example of how Fair Trade can work in the fashion industry. Kowtow produce brilliant, directional organic cotton pieces in their signature modernist style using Fair Trade cotton. All of Kowtow's cotton is FLOI certified meaning a guaranteed minimum price covers the costs of production and provides a sustainable livelihood for Kowtow cotton producers and beyond that the Fairtrade premium enables co-operatives to fund projects that benefit the organisation and wider community: business and agricultural training; drilling bore holes for clean water; building schools and clinics. The factory where the clothes are woven pays a living wage, social security and pensions for their workers as well as providing paid holidays, free schooling and many other benefits.
To us this is fashion done better and proves just how effective the Fair Trade model can be. Many other of our brands also have Fair Trade certification including jewellery brands Edge of Ember and Hiro + Wolf, sleepwear brand Alas and People Tree and Komodo. In cases where our smaller brands don't have certification itself they are still driven by and working to Fair Trade standards, with paying a Living Wage being a shared value that all of our brands adhere to.
Fair Trade has the power to transform lives and the fashion industry could have an enormous impact on growing the movement and making Fair Trade Certfied fabrics and materials the norm rather than the exception. We need to raise standards and raise expectations - we need to do fashion better. Fair Trade is a great place to start.
In celebration of #FairTradeFortnight Gather&See is giving away a seriously cool Fair Trade Duo of a must have Kowtow Organic Cotton T and a beautiful Hiro+Wolf Mamba ring. Visit our facebook page to enter!