One month of blogging about Fair Trade Fashion has passed and I enjoyed it a lot. I've found many interesting labels which I will introduce this month; more "Made in Berlin" posts are coming too. I was also thinking about adding "background check" posts about high street brands but this is a difficult topic. These companies don't own factories in India, Bangladesh or China but they contract out their production to manufacturers in these and other countries. International human rights groups have exposed that many of these overseas manufacturers violate labor rights.
This practice also means that high street brands (who may have a code of ethics and who may perform factory inspections) can claim that they didn't know that their sub-contractor ran a sweatshop. "In complex global supply chains, often several parties - including suppliers, buyers and governments - contribute to the poor working conditions experienced by workers. Of these, it is the fashion brands and retailers who take the most profit and have the most power in the supply chain, and who therefore bear the primary responsibility for working conditions." (quoted from "Let's clean up fashion 2007 Update" from the war on want website)
However we can also weigh in by choosing to buy from fair trade fashion labels and thus supporting companies who pay a decent wage to their workers. Of course, in an ideal world, every item of clothing should be made under fair conditions and no-one should have to worry whether their T-shirt was sewn by a slave laborer or whether the cotton it is made of was picked by a kid. If you want to support the clean clothes movement just check out www.cleanclothes.org and www.cleanclothes.org/contacting.htm will lead you to their national branches. Here you can also read individual profiles of several brands like Adidas, Fila, G-star, Nike, Puma, Reebok and Walmart.