10 Principles of Fair Trade Fashion and Where to Find It


Are you ready to make the switch from free trade fashion to fair trade fashion? If so, you'd be contributing to a sustainable, eco-friendly practice that also has factory workers (among others) in mind.

Unfortunately, in the free trade world, goods and services can be bought with little to no government restriction—tariffs, quotas, prohibitions, and subsidies fly out the window. With them go ethical standards as well.

Fair trade, on the other hand, is a model that seeks to bring education to consumers and manufacturers about practices that are non-harmful, profitable for artisans and businesses alike, and ensures working environments are stable, safe, and focused on fundamental human rights.

The process to achieve Fair Trade Certified-status is a rigorous, time-consuming one, proving that businesses with this stamp are worth your dollars. It means they uphold standards that are ethical, admirable, and guilt-free. The status is also evaluated annually to ensure continued compliance.

Here are the ten principles of fair trade (fashion and otherwise), plus, where you can find respectable fashion brands to be proud of wearing!

10 Principles of Fair Trade

The WFTO, or World Fair Trade Organization, outlines specific principles that allow businesses to call themselves Fair Trade-certified. 

Here, we highlight the ten laws outlined by this ethical committee.

1. Must Provide Opportunities to Disadvantaged Producers

Poverty reduction is one significant goal of WFTO.

The WFTO supports small, marginalized producers to ensure that wealth is spread out evenly. This law gives those producers self-sufficiency and less income insecurity.

2. Must-Have Transparency and Accountability 

The WFTO ensures that all manufacturers have transparent business practices. This includes to their employees, producers, and stakeholders. Throughout every level of the supply chain, communication is open, making manufacturers accountable.

3. Must-Have Fair Trading Practices

Having fair trade practices means several things, such as 

  • Commitment to contracts and delivering products on time
  • Responsibility for supplying quality products to individual specifications 
  • Trading with concern for the well-being of marginalized producers
  • No maximizing profits based on the expense of marginalized producers

4. Must Give Fair Pay to Producers

In this principle, fair pay means several things. Fair pay includes

  • Fair prices, i.e., transparent price setting after negotiations between buyer and seller
  • Fair wages, i.e., an equitable, freely- and mutually- negotiated wage
  • A local living wage, i.e., the payment received for a standard workweek is sufficient to support oneself and one's family, including food, housing, education, health care, and more

5. No Forced and/or Child Labor Allowed

The WFTO is committed to ensuring that no child undergoes criminal labor. 

It adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as national and local laws on employing minors and children. There must also be no forced labor. 

If a child is involved in the production of any product, the involvement must be willing, documented, transparent, and monitored. It also cannot negatively impact a child's well-being.

6. Must Commit to No Discrimination 

To receive this stamp of approval, the producer must 

  • Commit to non-discrimination
  • Abide by Gender Equity laws
  • Adhere to the Women’s Economic Empowerment 
  • Adhere to the Freedom of Association

Both women and men must have equal access to resources, as well as an equal influence within the company. 

7. Must Provide Good Working Conditions 

The working conditions must always be safe and healthy for the producers. Manufacturers must comply with local and/or national laws of health and safety in working environments. This includes both working hours and working conditions. 

Manufacturers must also regularly maintain awareness of health and safety issues in order to combat them. 

8. Must Provide Capacity Building 

Capacity building means increasing the positive development impacts for smaller and/or marginalized producers. That means that businesses are always providing the means to build up an employee's capacity through practices such as 

  • Skill development
  • Ongoing training to improve management skills and production capabilities
  • Access to markets

Even buying from Fair Trade-certified businesses means you're contributing to the continued education and development of its producers. This actively supports marginalized groups and helps them to become better, more educated, and self-sufficient at work and home.

9. Must Promote Fair Trade Practices 

Simply abiding by fair trade practices as a business is not enough. To truly be considered Fair Trade, a manufacturer must also promote reasonable trade practices to others.

That means advocating for greater justice in the world, providing customers with information about Fair Trade, and providing insight about their practices and producers. To do this, all marketing tactics must also be honest and transparent. 

10. Must Respect the Environment 

And last but not least, a manufacturer must also respect the environment. 

That means

  • Maximizing the use of raw materials
  • Seeking to reduce energy consumption
  • Minimizing their impact on waste 
  • Using organic and/or low-pesticide production methods when possible
  • Prioritizing buying products made from natural materials 
  • Having the least effect on the environment as possible
  • Using recycled and/or biodegradable materials for packaging
  • Dispatching goods by sea when possible

Fair Trade Fashion Brands You Can Be Proud to Wear

Are you ready to make the switch?

If so, here are seven Fair Trade-certified brands to get you started:

  1. Smoking Lily
  2. Funky Buddha Collection
  3. Nomad's Hemp Wear
  4. Hot Dame
  5. PLAYBAG
  6. Grace Designs
  7. Open Fire

These seven designers are committed to providing fashion lovers with high fashion at low impact. From being zero-waste to locally-sourced, these companies abide by fair practices of producing and selling products. They also commit to using raw or organic materials and buying these materials from like-minded individuals or establishments.

If you buy a piece from one of these labels, you can rest assured they've undergone a rigorous application process to prove their practices are ethical and sustainable.

Be Fair and Fashionable

You don't have to contribute to dangerously unethical manufacturers to be stylish. Fair trade fashion is simple to find, and it's becoming more accessible by the day. 

Our mission at Adorit is to provide easy access to brands we can all be proud to wear.

Click here to shop zero-waste, ethical, and eco-friendly products ranging from bags and dresses to pants and tops. You can be fair and fashionable! 


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