Patagonia claims its collection is the worlds first full line of Fair Trade Certified swimwear

Patagonia claims its collection is the world's first full line of Fair Trade Certified swimwear

US outdoor brand Patagonia has extended its line-up of Fair Trade Certified products by switching its full swimwear line of 48 styles of men's, women's and kids' board shorts and bikinis to the programme.

The California-based company explains that for every product made by a Fair Trade Certified factory, businesses such as Patagonia choose to pay an additional premium that workers can use to elevate their standard of living and bridge the gap between a minimum wage and a living wage.

The money goes into an account the workers control and a worker-elected committee votes on how to spend the money – either as a cash bonus or to pay for social, economic and environmental community projects.

"For a long time now, there's been too little transparency in the garment industry," says Dave Rastovich, global surf activist at Patagonia. "When we buy clothing, we're often oblivious to the reality of how it was made – not to mention the true human and ecological costs of the manufacturing process.

"The factories we rely on aren't just full of machines; they're also full of people with families, histories and futures that have been overlooked by the industry for far too long. Fair Trade extends a sense of value, acknowledgement and respect to members of the human family who are often pushed to the margins."

Last year, the company revealed it would ramp up its relationship with Fair Trade USA, with a view to manufacturing 300 styles – approximately one-third of its products – in Fair Trade Certified factories in 2017.

By autumn 2017, the California-based company aims to boost production of fair trade garments from 218 styles to 300 across factories in India, Thailand, Colombia, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Premiums from Patagonia purchases have been used to fund child-care programmes and vouchers for medicine and household goods; and at a factory in Los Angeles, California, workers voted for a dividend that equalled up to a week's pay.

Other points of difference in Patagonia's swim and surf collection are the use of recycled nylon or recycled polyester fabrics, while the women's swimsuits and bikinis are printed using a laser process that minimises fabric scraps and waste. 

Patagonia ramps up Fair Trade production