Retailers around the world are beginning to test new strategies that are designed to strengthen their brand and increase their relevance to customers. One strategy that is gaining increasing popularity around the world is Fast Fashion – read more about it in February's Newsletter. Another strategy being used by clothing manufacturers is producing their products using Fair Trade principles.
Fair Trade is gaining popularity because the principles require companies to base manufacturing decisions on the entire impact to society and not just their company’s bottom line. Customers are coming to support this business model and companies around the world are working to adjust their practices. One trade group promoting Fair Trade is the United Kingdom based Fair Trade Collective. The organization has brought together a multitude of top brands and designers to create scarves made from Fair Trade cotton sourced from India and South Africa. They are designed to be fashion forward and promote awareness for the Fair Trade cause.
Another factor that is driving consumers towards the Fair Trade clothing is the promotion of brands by celebrities. Emma Watson recently worked with People Tree to promote a line of clothing based on sustainable manufacturing. U.K. based People Tree is a leader in the Fair Trade industry and works with 50 Fair Trade groups in 15 countries. All of the steps used in production of their products are designed to alleviate poverty by paying a fair wage to all workers involved in their process.
The success and growing popularity of the entire Fair Trade industry can be seen in its sales growth. Despite a global recession, Fair Trade sales grew an estimated 15% in 2009. Although 2010 sales have not been published, experts are expecting similar growth. Some experts, on the other hand, are critical of the trend. They argue that it is going against free markets and is basically an unsustainable subsidy.
Regardless of who is right, consumers are voting with their wallets and as long as they’re buying, companies are happy to sell.
If you would like to learn more about the effects of Fair Trade on businesses around the world and how they are implementing these principles, please read the gE Business Review.