Two of Patagonia’s best-selling lines, Better Sweater and Synchilla Snap-T, are now Fair Trade Certified sewn. With 38 percent of its product line now Fair Trade Certified, Patagonia says it has more styles and products made in Fair Trade Certified factories than any other apparel or home goods brand.
Since 2014, Patagonia’s participation in Fair Trade has grown rapidly. It began by making 10 Fair Trade clothing styles in a single factory in the fall of 2014, and in spring of 2017 it launched the world’s first full line of Fair Trade Certified board shorts and bikinis. This fall, Patagonia is offering 480 Fair Trade styles made in 14 different factories.
The Fair Trade program is Patagonia’s midterm strategy for achieving fair wages. Patagonia pays a premium for Fair Trade products: the extra money goes directly into a workers’ fund, and they decide how to spend it. Because every Fair Trade product sold sends money back to apparel workers through these premium payments, Patagonia chose products that would ensure a high volume and significant return.
More than 26,000 workers have benefitted from the premiums Patagonia has paid through the Fair Trade program, says the brand. Since 2014, these premiums have been spent on a day care center, health programs, cash bonuses, market vouchers, baskets, water filters and other necessities.
“Most people recognize that their clothing is made out of certain materials, but it’s important to understand that it’s also made by hands. And the people who make our clothing deserve to be seen and recognized,” stated Helena Barbour, vice president of sportswear at Patagonia. “Fair Trade is one way to achieve that goal. It’s so much more than just paying premiums to workers. It positively affects workers lives, but also affects factories, brands and customers who get to make informed choices.”