Fair Wear Foundation

Civil society, media, academia, think tanks, consultants

Macedonia [FYROM]

Fair fashion—a new normal

Working with our member brands here and on the ground in production countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, we take practical steps to show that it’s possible to make clothes in a fairer way. Our member brands are doing advanced work. However, we will need all brands, trade unions and other labour rights NGOs on board to transform the industry, to make sure social responsibility will not be considered an optional add-on, a favour we’re providing to garment workers. Fair fashion is about fundamental rights. Therefore, together with trade unions and other NGOs, we are pushing towards a new normal—creating change that goes far beyond our reach.

The values and beliefs that guide us

Big change starts with small steps

Change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we meet brands where they are, whether they are corporate social responsibility leaders or just beginning their journey towards more responsible business practices. For companies just starting out, there can often be a lot to tackle. That’s where our expertise comes in. We help our member brands create practical plans and pinpoint next steps to improve working conditions. The work doesn’t stop there. We expect our brands to show improvement every year, and we constantly push and support them to reach their goals. This collaborative process of step-by-step change is what makes real and lasting impact.

Independent, third-party verification builds credibility

More and more consumers are looking for ethical and sustainable clothing brands committed to fair business practices, but how can a customer trust whether a company’s claims to fair practices are true? The only way to be sure is through third-party checks. This is at the heart of what we offer at Fair Wear Foundation. To gain real insight into our member brands’ performance, we conduct checks at three levels: at the brand level to see which current business practices and management decisions are likely to create problems down the line at the factory level and which are helping support better labour conditions; at the factories to inspect working conditions; and lastly, by hearing directly from the garment workers. These thorough checks boost credibility for our member brands and provide the starting point for real change to occur.

All stakeholders must be involved to change the industry

Transforming working conditions for people in the garment industry is an ambitious goal that calls for collective action. That means bringing together different players from across the supply chain—brands, consumers, business associations, trade unions, governments and NGOs—because they all have a voice and role to play. Our board is 50% business associations and 50% trade unions and NGOs. We engage these partners at every level, from boardroom decisions to factory audits and training, so that we can all make a greater impact together.

Transparency is necessary at every step

Today, consumers expect brands to be open and transparent about their business practices. Rather than being a burden on companies, this is an opportunity for brands to build goodwill and be rewarded for their efforts to create fairer supply chains. This is why transparency is at the foundation of the work we do and one of the key commitments required of our member brands. At Fair Wear Foundation, we require our members to be open about the conditions and complaints received in the factories that produce their garments and share this information publicly on our website. It takes courage for a company to open up its internal practices and supply chain decisions to the public, but this bold measure of accountability is the only way to realise a fairer fashion industry. As it stands, there is no such thing as a 100% fair garment supply chain. Encouraging honesty about both the challenges and wins is a key step that takes us closer to this goal and demonstrates a brand’s commitment to disrupting the status quo.

Macedonia [FYROM]; Myanmar [Burma]; India; Romania; Tunisia; Bangladesh; China; Bulgaria; Turkey; Indonesia; Vietnam