- J.Crew, partnering with Fair Trade USA, has launched a new line of denim clothing with the aim to offer the widest array of Fair Trade Certified clothing available, as reported by Gear Patrol.
- Certified apparel stipulates all parties involved in producing the J.Crew and Madewell product line receive equal compensation with the guarantee to be able to work in safe conditions.
- The companies selected the Vietnamese sustainable denim factory Saitex to be the first supplier for their certification.
Apparel companies have increasingly felt the pressure — internally and externally — to alter their sourcing methodology to ensure a more ethical and sustainable supply chain.
In the case of J.Crew, it was proactive in recognizing an opportunity to partner with a manufacturer that has made headlines in its own right. Saitex is often identified by customers, including Everlane and G-Star Raw, as the world's most sustainable producer of denim. The company recognizes when it comes to sustainability pursuits, "continuous improvement means continuous investment," even if those investments are incremental. J.Crew will capitalize on Saitex's reputation as well as its product.
While J.Crew saw a natural fit with its Saitex partnership, companies' decision points to reevaluate suppliers often is via a forced hand.
Nike faced social pressure to reexamine their suppliers. In late 2016, 17 student activists at Georgetown University staged a sit-in to enforce the school's apparel code of conduct with Nike. Reports had surfaced that the apparel retailer was employing a contractor near Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where workers endured poor on-site conditions.
As a result in part, Georgetown refused to renew its Nike contract until Nike would allow outside auditor Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) to be allowed to formally inspect the retailer's licensing factories whenever a problem is reported.
Earlier this year, Badger Sportwear, a college apparel provider, cut ties with privately owned garment company Hetian Taida Apparel. The factory, residing in the western Xinjiang region of China, was exposed by an AP investigation into human rights violations. The investigation found the factory was staffed by unpaid detainees, mostly ethnic and religious minorities, and the detainees were guarded by armed security and dogs. The "training center," as referred to by the Chinese government, insisted the detainees were there by choice, but family members of the detainees said their relatives were detained by force.
Badger subsequently no longer does any business in the region and will not ship products in its inventory produced at the Hetian facility.