Fair Trade clothing ?

An article in the New York Times (May 8, 2013) describes a movement to inform consumers about the supply chain used to produce apparel – termed Fair Trade clothing. This is to convince consumers that the clothing was produced by workers facing humane working conditions and is in response to the recent reports of fires and building collapses and tragic deaths of employees in Bangladesh and Pakistan. One company, Everlane, that produces its clothing in Los Angeles, CA, plans to provide cost breakdowns and photographs of working conditions for its supply chain. Nordstrom plans to provide details regarding working conditions for its producers. But such efforts may result in higher costs – and a question whether consumers would be willing to pay higher costs. Will the chain of custody and assurance of supply chain conditions be part of apparel attributes to be competitive ? Will such efforts justify local sourcing to enable effective oversight ? How far back in the supply chain should this visibility extend – should it include the farm (for cotton) and associated pesticide and worker deployment too ? Will certification of ethical supply chains happen at the company level or will there be a need for non-profits or governments to play such a role ?

About aviyer2010

This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Fair Trade clothing ?

  1. Dave says:

    The issue with a company posting pictures and other ‘accountability mechanisms’ is the trust factor. The mechanisms may indeed be authentic but the consumer is not so quick to trust in my estimation.
    The only way to make this accountability work is to invite a third disinterested or adversarial organization to examine the supply chain and make recommendations. The consumer could probably care less about the ‘sustainable, humane’ component of the supply chain unless other ways could be found to keep costs in line or build additional value. In other words, its going to have to be cool to buy these products.

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