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Transform your fashion brand with these 3 fair trade manufacturing strategies - from Common Objective

Updated: Mar 19

Fair Trade practices in fashion is a commitment to ethical manufacturing, equitable wages, and sustainability that respects both people and the planet. The movement is not just about creating clothing; it's about fostering a global community dedicated to fairness, resilience, and innovation.

A smiling woman with long hair

In our latest Spotlight Series interview, we speak to Tamsin Lejeune, founder and CO of Common Objective. 

An expert in ethical manufacturing, Tamsin founded the world's first sustainable fashion network. She shares decades of insights in this candid and insightful interview on how and why brands should embed Fair Trade principles and products into their supply chains. 

The Resilience of Fair Trade Business

Research indicates that businesses operating under Fair Trade principles are notably more resilient. The pandemic era highlighted this resilience, showing that these businesses were not only able to withstand economic downturns but also to bounce back and expand. This resilience stems from the ethical foundation of Fair Trade, which fosters strong community ties, reliable supply chains, and a loyal customer base that values sustainability and ethical manufacturing.

Launching Fair Trade Products: A Strategic Approach

Launching a Fair Trade product or collection requires a strategic approach to stand out in a competitive market. Here are three essential tips for brands looking to make a positive impact for your fashion brand through Fair Trade:

Tip #1: Carve Your Fashion Niche

The narrative of changing lives through fashion is powerful but not sufficient on its own. Brands must identify a unique product niche to differentiate themselves in a market saturated with competitors, most of which may not adhere to Fair Trade or ethical standards. Finding your product niche is crucial to convey the story behind your brand and the tangible value and uniqueness of your products.

People hang up long sheets of brightly coloured fabric in a field

Tip #2: Partner with Like-minded Ethical Manufacturers

Success in Fair Trade fashion hinges on finding suppliers who not only share your vision but can also contribute to achieving your goals. Innovative partnerships are key—explore platforms like Common Objective to build a network of suppliers and partners who align with your commitment to Fair Trade and ethical production. Remember, working within Fair Trade standards is an asset; be bold in your outreach, as many successful individuals and entities are eager to support Fair Trade and sustainability focused initiatives.

Tip #3: Focus on a Singular Fashion Product

Start with a singular, well-defined product to establish your market presence. This approach requires creativity, ingenuity, and a problem-solving mindset. By concentrating on one product, you can ensure quality and ethical production standards, gradually expanding your line as your brand gains recognition. Success stories like Made51's collaboration with mainstream brands and Vivienne Westwood's bags demonstrate the potential for larger brands to integrate Fair Trade products without compromising sustainability.

Overcoming Challenges in Ethical Manufacturing

The journey towards ethical production is fraught with challenges, including competition on price and quality and the need to maintain a unique niche. Brands like Veja and Pangaia have shown that it is possible to overcome these obstacles by focusing on simplicity, innovative design, and unique concepts. To project the industry forward Common Objective has partnered with the UN Global Compact, to promote better business practices and sustainability through centralized and incentivized platforms and create a mechanism to reward businesses doing better. 

Looking Ahead with Optimism

The fashion industry is at a crossroads, with increasing greenhouse gas emissions from major brands highlighting the urgent need for change. Legislation is on the horizon, promising a future where ethical manufacturing and sustainability are not just encouraged, but required. With platforms like Common Objective leading the way, there is ample reason for optimism. By working together and championing Fair Trade and ethical manufacturing, we can push the fashion industry towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

Check out our interview with Tamsin and the FULL Spotlight Series here

Get Started Manufacturing

Purnaa is a full-service sewing and knitting fair-trade, social enterprise manufacturing company in Nepal with a mission to create jobs that empower marginalized people to fresh starts and fulfilled lives. We specialize in custom caps and hats with sublimation and embroidery, stuffed animals, t-shirts, bags, and fully custom contract sewing and knitting manufacturing.

Reach out today to start your sample journey

To learn more about how our manufacturing process works, check out these other posts:


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