With the heat we’ve had this summer, we’ll admit we’re already daydreaming about crisp autumn weather – and the cozy fall wardrobe that comes with it. But for the ethically-minded consumer, there’s more to think about than just colors and sizes when it comes to shopping for new clothes. It’s important to understand where your clothes come from and how they’re being made – and then make the right choices to support brands that are committed to environmentally- and socially-responsible practices. In order to help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of sources for fair trade women’s clothing and fair trade men’s clothing – happy ethical shopping!
What is Fair Trade Clothing?
A relatively new concept, fair trade is a loosely organized social movement aimed at helping producers make a better profit, promote sustainable farming, and improve social, economic, and environmental standards. There are a wide range of fair trade organizations out there – including those that represent different industries or work in specific countries – but for our purposes, we’ll look at brands that are Fair Trade Certified™.
To become Fair Trade Certified™, companies must undergo an audit conducted by FLOCERT, an independent global certification and verification body, and meet a rigorous set of Fair Trade standards. These Fair Trade standards aim to provide support for social, economic, and environmental development of small scale farmers, and completely prohibit forced and child labor.
Fair Trade Clothing for Both Men and Women
MEC is a retail co-op that sells exclusively to members. Members get the best products at fair prices, access to rental gear, and the knowledge that they’re doing good for the planet and its people – all for the lifetime membership price of $5. MEC has a great selection of outdoorsy activewear and casual clothes for both men and women.
PACT is a line that offers head-to-toe basics for men and women made of organic cotton. For everyday basics that are not only Fair Trade Certified™, but “so soft you’ll (almost) cry,” PACT should be your first and last stop. The line includes undies, socks, leggings, hoodies and tees that free you to live all your layers in style.
As one of the leaders in the sustainability and fair trade movements, Patagonia has been pushing the boundaries for years – and inspiring other companies to come on board. Patagonia’s full line of products is Fair Trade Certified™, meaning that whichever fleece jacket, swimsuit, or pair of pants you choose, you’ll know you’re getting a responsibly-made product.
Prana’s clothing and accessories are designed for the free-spirited and the adventurous. They offer a range of sustainably-produced casual clothing for all types of active pursuits and lifestyles. From slouchy tote bags to yoga pants to button down short sleeve shirts, both men and women will find a wide range of casual, comfortable styles.
REI is one of the foremost retailers and producers of outdoor apparel and gear and carries a wide selection of Fair Trade Certified™ clothing for men, women, and kids. With everything from tees and hoodies to mountain-ready outerwear, if you need something for an active, outdoor lifestyle – and you want to be sure it’s ethically made – you can find it here.
Oliberté is a sustainable fair trade footwear brand supporting workers' rights in sub-Saharan Africa that became the first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear company. The company offers sandals, boots, and shoes designed for earth-conscious, casual men and women.
Fair Trade Men’s Clothing
Formed in 2001 by artist Shepherd Fairley as another canvas to spread his art and message to the people, this clothing is heavily inspired by classic military design and work wear basics. Focused on smart streetwear and accessories with a politically-conscious edge, OBEY also produces women’s fair trade clothing.
Outerknown is committed to producing great looking menswear in a sustainable way. In addition to their Fair Trade Certified™ line, they take steps throughout their supply chain to source, produce, and sell the most responsible clothing possible. Outerknown offers a range of sharp, on-trend casual men’s clothing, from tees and swim trunks to polos shirts and pants.
Fair Trade Women’s Clothing
Athleta is a premium fitness and lifestyle brand, offering versatile performance apparel to inspire a community of active, confident women. Athleta integrates performance and technical features across their collections of activewear and casual lifestyle clothing, including yoga pants, outerwear, and clothing ideal for women on the go.
Synergy was founded to not only create clothing with a minimal environmental impact, but also to empower men and women through ethical employment practices. The line features casual clothing and women’s basics, ranging from flowy wrap dresses in earthy palettes to printed tees and cozy wrap sweaters.
The Elephant Pants is a mission-oriented company dedicated to saving elephants through the ethical production and sale of comfortable lounge clothing inspired by the founders’ travels through Southeast Asia. The line features harem pants, lounge pants, yoga tops, and kimonos in a fun, vibrant patterns.
Of course, there are plenty of other brands committed to responsible clothing production – this list is just a start. As a cotton producer committed to the highest ethical standards, the PimaCott team is proud and excited to see this category continue to grow. So once your autumn wardrobe is well-stocked with environmentally- and socially-responsible clothing and it’s time to update your bedroom and bathroom linens, look for the PimaCott seal on Wamsutta sheets and towels. When you do, you can rest easy knowing your purchases support sustainable farming and fair labor practices.