Sustainable, Ethical, and Fair Trade Fashion Goes Mainstream

by Source Intelligence

on August 1, 2019

When we think of Fair Trade products, consumable commodities such as coffee or chocolate probably come to mind, but thanks to J.Crew and sister brand Madewell, we can now add denim to the list.

Brand Spotlight: J.CREW Fair Trade Denim


Apparel manufacturing, including the commonly labeled “dirty denim” industry, have historically been a known cause of many environmental and social injustices, from chemical contaminants polluting waterways to human rights violations stemming from poor labor conditions at overcrowded factories. It’s no secret that the industry could use a glimpse of transparency at every level in the supply chain. J.Crew has worked closely with manufacturers to do just that by partnering with factories that are already focused on producing sustainable goods to become Fair Trade certified.


What Is Fair Trade and How Does a Factory Become Fair Trade certified?


To achieve Fair Trade certification a business is held to specific standards and criteria set in place by the program. At its core, the program is in place to ensure fair wages and safe workplace conditions while protecting environmental resources. This is achieved through the four objectives set in place

  • Worker Empowerment
  • Economic Development
  • Social Responsibility 
  • Environmental Responsibility and Management


These objectives provide a model for factory management to produce sustainable conditions. A comprehensive management system promotes consistency and transparency while holding factories accountable through annual audits.


By taking one of the most troublesome industries and working directly with the factory to bring them up to Fair Trade Standards, J.Crew has managed to introduce ethical manufacturing to the masses. We commend J.Crew for pioneering the mainstream Fair Trade denim market. With the emphasis being at the factory level, we can only hope to see more Certified Fair Trade garments across the board. So the question is... what is the edge or tipping point to get more mainstream brands onboard with producing sustainable garments? We are here for it. The consumer can feel good investing in a pair...or two.


How Can Companies Work to Increase Their Ethical Sourcing Standards?


Traditional supply chain due diligence activities include on-site factory audits to manage risk. Audits are the norm for measuring risk in areas like labor, ethical sourcing, product quality, facility safety and more. Regular monitoring of these risk indicators through on-site audits can be a costly venture with unforeseen variables that can lead to risk going undetected. At Source Intelligence, we believe that supply chain transparency can only be achieved through connecting people, process, and technology.


Instead of complex self-assessments that increase supplier fatigue, our platform is designed to create a user-friendly environment for suppliers. Through ease-of-use and 24/7/365 engagement, we’re able to get our customers the data they need, without creating stress on their suppliers.

Collect supplier compliance data, assign unique risk-scoring attributes to each assessment, and get real-time risk KPI’s. Our platform prompts suppliers to upload supporting documentation when needed, creates a risk profile for each supplier and allows for third party review and commentary on each assessment.


If you're interested in increasing your company's commitment to ethical sourcing through the adoption of technology, click the button below to speak with an enterprise compliance specialist.


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