From the 22nd of February to the 7th of March is Fair Trade Fortnight - an event that started in the UK and is now a global movement to celebrate and create awareness about the importance of Fair Trade.
Fair Trade is all about supporting producers in developing countries to achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships and the theme for this year's Fair Trade Fortnight is "Choose the World You Want." This is such an empowering and hope-filled statement, alluding to the power that we have as consumers to choose where we spend our money based on the values that we hold as important.
Unfortunately, the fashion world is a minefield fraught with opportunities to unwittingly throw our dollars behind unethical, unfair and unsustainable practices. It can be really difficult to discern which companies are doing the right thing too - with so much lack of transparency and "green-washing" around.
Fortunately, there are some fantastic organisations around, dedicated to holding businesses accountable and ensuring that they meet strict standards relating to the social, physical and economic wellbeing of all those involved in the supply chain that is employed to create our garments. Organisations such as the Global Textile Standard which
certifies products that have been rigorously scrutinised in order to be given the GOTS Certified Organic tick of approval.
What Makes Organic Cotton Fair?
I'm glad you asked! There are a number of standards that GOTS certified organic cotton producers are held to which make a hugely positive impact on farmers, communities and the natural environment. Here are just a few:
Organic Cotton is clearly the superior choice - so where can you get products that use it and are manufactured ethically and sustainably? We've compiled a list across a few fashion categories of clothing of conscious brands using organic cotton to help you choose well when voting with your wallet:
Woron Sustainable Fashion Essentials is a Copenhagen based label and the collaboration between sisters Anya and Arina. They have a passion for life in the slow lane and both share an enthusiasm for sustainable underwear & everyday essentials.
Every aspect of Woron's products are made with sustainability and social responsibility in mind which means high quality design and craftsman ship coupled with timeless styling to make sure pieces stand the test of time, using plant-based PETA certified vegan fabrics and keeping their garments free from toxic chemicals and allergens.
Woron only uses GOTS certified fibres, handling methods and factories, when working with Organic cotton. The cotton is grown in accordance with organic agriculture methods, without the use of harmful defoliants. It is produced with methods that respect the well-being of mankind and environment. The cotton is free from toxic dyes & fabric treatments including formaldehyde, heavy metals & aromatic solvents.
Swedish Stockings are famous worldwide for their innovative use of recycled nylon fibres, zero-emissions production and closed loop system, but they also use GOTS Certified Organic Cotton in some of their styles for added comfort, breathability and warmth.
Stina Bio-Cotton Tights are a semi-opaque style made with a combination of GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, recycled and virgin polyamide. They are a really versatile wardrobe staple, as are the Signe Bio-Cotton Socks - a super comfortable ribbed sock made with just 2% virgin components.
Not yet under the GOTS banner, but doing extraordinary things in the world of organic cotton baby wear is Australian label Fibre for Good. Fibre for Good uses Organic Natural Colour Cotton which actually grows in three natural shades so there is no need to use dyes!
ONCC is very drought resistant and uses 80-90% less water to produce than conventionally produced varieties. The ONCC farmers have been continuously farming for 13 generations, passing down knowledge and techniques from father to child. They farm regeneratively, using the landscape and their own livestock to manage pests and fertilise the soil.
These organic farming techniques not only provide a better life for farmers, but a beautiful, exquisitely soft end product which is chemical free and of impeccable quality. You can shop their range of gender-neutral organic cotton baby basics here and soon from Sustainable Hosiery & Essentials Australia!
This is a category that I always struggle to find sustainable and ethical options in! Having two school aged children myself, I am regularly finding myself needing to purchase basics as they won't stop growing! I often go the second hand route for outerwear - browsing charity shops and picking up things as I find them. But things like underwear and socks need to be bought new and for all my googling, I have often ended up so frustrated as so many conscious kids labels only do baby and toddler sizes or finish at size 8!
Thankfully I eventually stumbled upon Blessed Earth a label that produces a whole range of GOTS Certified Organic Cotton home textiles, mens and womens wear and basics for children up to size 14 - hurray! Blessed Earth are delightfully transparent about their processes and have many things in place to ensure their business is ethically and sustainably sound including routine inspection by Bio-Dynamic Research Institute of Australia and only using GOTS certified fabrics.
Blessed Earth's prices are genuinely affordable making their organic kid's socks, singlets and undies the perfect alternative to the questionably cheap and mass produced items that many of us have resorted to buying from chain stores for lack of options!
If you're after great quality cotton men's basics in a variety of cuts and colours, walk straight past Uniqlo and head online to Bandsome. All of Bandsome's basics are made in Sydney from GOTS Certified Organic Cotton knitted in Melbourne - a very rare occurrence in the Australian fashion industry in this day and age! They also offer chinos and outerwear but are currently in the process of sourcing a suitable organic cotton for these.
The list of labels that are "cottoning on" to the benefits of using organic cotton to all the people involved in their supply chain, the environment and their customers is continually growing so we can only hope that the demand for ethically and sustainably made organic cotton will eventually grow to eclipse the demand for conventional cotton. Big brands are also paying attention to consumer's growing awareness of the impacts of commercial cotton manufacturing and this is when we start to see token "green" edits within their massive offerings of mostly completely unsustainable and unethically obtained garments! To see a real change for the better across the fashion industry, support brands that are holistically conscious - insisting on transparency in every part of their business with a deep and real regard for all those involved - from seed to shop!