A new post in the ‘Understanding Textile Standards’ series: Fair Wear. Adventurer, what do you know about the Fair Wear Foundation? Do you own Fair Wear garments? Let’s find out now.
What do these garments have in common?The brands shown here – Kings of Indigo (brand portrait, designer interview and looks for him and her here), Odlo, Vaude and Kuyichi – are Fair Wear Foundation members. What does it mean?
The Fair Wear Foundation, with headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is an independent NPO that works on establishing fair labour conditions for garment workers. To ensure that, the foundation cooperates with companies/brands and factories.
The Fair Wear Foundation is governed by several associations and trade unions (Modint, CBW-MITEX, FGHS, Clean Clothes Campaign and other) and founded by special social funds in the garment and the retail industry. The EU and UN Women have supported the foundation’s work as well.
There are four types of FWF memberships – available for companies, factories, ambassadors and, cleverly, young designers.
The Fair Wear Foundation in numbers:
+ founded in 1999
+ 80 members
+ 120 brands from 7 European countries
+ members’ products sold in 80 countries
Now, what does the FWF do? The foundation has multi-level processes to ensure a responsible and transparent supply chain and to secure ILO-compliant labour standards. However, the processes are manifold and complex so that today, all beautiful results of their dedicated work nonwithstanding, the FWF notes:
When a product is labelled as 100% fair, it implies that every stage of production of a particular product has been overseen and verified as “ILO proof”. But this guarantee is nearly impossible to provide for the average t-shirt or blanket, for instance. The truth is that most garments and sewn products are not (yet) made in fully compliant conditions. For this reason, FWF does not claim that its members’ products are produced in full compliance with labour standards. FWF does, however, verify that members are working hard, step-by-step, in this direction.”
– Fair Wear Foundation
An important info and a transparent approach, if you ask me.
In addition to the audits and the campaigning, the FWF Wage Ladder (launched in 2011) offers the textile industry professionals – brands, trade unions, factories – an online tool for wage benchmarks. While initially tailored for the garment industry it’s also helpful for other industries.
The interactive WellMade project educates about the essential labour issues in clothing factories. Whether designers or retailers – everybody can learn to support better labour conditions.
>>> Checklists and TEDx talks
>>> Calendar of upcoming sessions (tip: next one during Berlin Fashion Week)
Why Fair Wear if we have GOTS or Bluesign and the likes?
1. Because GOTS certifies only natural fibres; leather is not certifiable.
2. Because Bluesign is mainly aimed at securing tox-free garments, whereas Fair Wear systemically campaigns “a better world” for garment workers.
The collections by FWF member brands range from sportswear and outdoor clothing (Odlo, Vaude) to denim (Nudie, KOI, Kuyichi) to fashion (Acne Studio, Filippa K, Grüne Erde).
Get your own FWF shopping list here.