OAKLAND, CA and LUBBOCK, TX (June, 13 2011) – Fair Trade USA , the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, and Textile Exchange , a leader in facilitating the expansion of the global organic cotton and sustainable fiber supply chain, have formed a strategic partnership to offer brands new opportunities in responsible sourcing and to better support cotton farming communities around the world. This new partnership will focus on market-linkage, joint conferences and tradeshows, and educational materials development to recognize Fair Trade as the gold standard for sustainability in the textile industry. It also reflects the trend that more and more brands are opting to use dual certified--organic and Fair Trade--cotton in their retail lines.
Innovative companies like prAna , Maggie’s Organics  and Greenlight Apparel  have found there are ways to go above and beyond the commitment to organic cotton. With Fair Trade consumers can rest assured that their garment was produced under both socially and environmentally sustainable conditions. Leading organic cotton buyers are also evolving from traditional corporate social responsibility efforts to supply chain transparency and integrated sustainability initiatives, taking their responsibility commitments to a whole new level. The move to organics was a huge step for many mainstream brands, but as consumers continue to demand more ethical sourcing practices, companies are beginning to look for new, more transparent and verifiable ways to make a difference. This partnership between Textile Exchange and Fair Trade USA offers brands a solution to this challenge.
“More than half (62%) of all Fair Trade products are also certified organic,” said Heather Franzese, Senior Manager, Fair Trade USA. “Cotton is no exception. Increasing consumer demand for sustainably produced clothing is truly driving this shift in industry values; people want to know that their purchase was made at no cost to the environment or the people who worked hard to produce it. This partnership helps make that a reality.”
Additionally, Fair Trade cotton sourcing offers brands access to long-term, sustainable supply chains. Today cotton prices are at a 15-year high, leaving brands scrambling to secure stable supply of their raw materials at reasonable prices. Fair Trade and organic are a vehicle for companies to form direct, long-term relationships with suppliers and farmers, helping them to secure supply at the right quality and price, and reducing risks associated with price volatility.
“The intention of sustainability has always been about evolving and doing better; taking the principle of organic sourcing and including Fair Trade standards not only secures market access, it also guarantees higher prices for farmers to invest back into product quality,” said Nicole Bassett, prAna’s Director of Sustainability. “It is exciting to see this new partnership between Textile Exchange and Fair Trade USA emerge as it leverages knowledge and best practices that will undoubtedly create a ripple effect of responsible sourcing in the textile industry.”
“This partnership with Fair Trade USA brings together the respective strengths of both organizations to help provide a framework to support long-term relationships and benefits for farmers, brands and consumers,” said LaRhea Pepper, Managing Director of Textile Exchange. “It truly is a win for all.”