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Natural Awakenings

Fashion Freedom: Fair Trade Comes to Retail Clothing

Aug 30, 2013 12:13PM

The revolution that started in food is expanding to clothing: origins matter. With fair trade coffee and organic fruit now standard on grocery shelves, consumers concerned with industry working conditions, environmental issues and outsourcing are now demanding similar accountability for their T-shirts. As a result, some retailers have started supplying information about how and where their products are made.

“There’s real demand for sweat-free products,” observes Ian Robinson, Ph.D., a lecturer and research scientist at the University of Michigan who studies labor issues. “Consumers don’t have the information they need, and they do care.”

The New York Times reported that a recent factory collapse in Bangladesh might play a part in changing that. Loblaw Companies Limited, the parent company of Joe Fresh, which produced clothing there, has vowed to audit factories more aggressively and compensate the victims’ families. “The apparel industry can be a force for good,” vows Galen G. Weston, Loblaw’s chairman.

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