What Is Fair Trade Fashion?

Anni Caylor

We’ve all heard the term "fair trade fashion." It’s easy to agree that it’s important to live sustainably, but what exactly does it mean? Well, we’ve done the research and we have the answers...

To really boil things down, fair trade means that every part of the production process meets certain ethical standards. These standards primarily focus on the people who are producing products by making sure employees are in safe and healthy conditions, and companies pay them fairly for their labor.

With the current state of the fashion industry, the facts are dismal. Worldwide, workers in clothing factories face grueling hours, abusive and unhealthy working conditions, and deadly accidents.

In Bangladesh, garment workers only make $96 each month. According to a government wage report, these workers need 3.5 times as much money just to live a "decent life with basic facilities." And while many people know that this is happening, they still shop from the brands who are involved.

Shop BUHO for fair trade fashion and sustainable style

Fast-fashion retailers are focused on finding the cheapest way to recreate runway trends, so it’s easy to get caught up in the harmful cycle. Beyond the blatant abuse of these low-wage workers, this cycle is also destroying our planet. Each year, the current fashion model (wear and dispose of) creates 1.2 billion TONS of greenhouse gas emissions. To put this in perspective, that's more emissions than all shipping international flights combined. If you're wanting to learn even more about how harmful the fashion industry is, watch “The True Cost.”

Now what?

But making ethical fashion part of your wardrobe doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money. In fact, shopping fair trade fashion is one of the easiest sustainable practices. All it takes is a slight change in your purchasing habits. You can stick to your budget while knowing that you are empowering real people.

The hard thing about the fashion industry is that there is no universal fair trade certificate. No government agency checks that every step in the process follows fair trade and ethical guidelines. But there are a few good ones out there that we use as cornerstones to determine a brand's sustainability practice. We vet all of our brands through the B Corp Directory, Good on You, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the World Fair Trade Association. Our main goal at BUHO is to make it easy for you to shop consciously, taking the research out of it. We make sure that all of our brands stick with our promise of ethical and sustainable fashion. So all you have to do is pick out your favorites, feel good, and look great.