AirTalk for June 27, 2013

Manufacturers embrace Fair Trade clothing designation, but will consumers?

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Are consumers willing to pay more for clothes they know are made under fair working conditions?

The garment factory fire in Bangladesh that costed more than 900 lives enraged consumers the world over. In its wake, major retailers including H&M, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have signed on to a five-year pact that requires independent safety inspections, public reporting and necessary repairs and upgrades at Bangladeshian factories paid for by the signees.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, with members like Nike, Walmart, and Gap, is looking to release a new version of its Higg Index this fall to measure environmental as well as social and labor conditions of factories. Furthermore, Fair Trade USA, the organization best known for Fair Trade coffee beans, has reported growing interest from big retailers in getting certified by its apparel program.

How does Fair Trade certification work for apparels? Has “humanely-produced” clothes entered the popular zeitgeist? Are consumers willing to pay more for clothes made under fair working conditions?

Heather Franzese, is the Director of Good World Solutions, a nonprofit subsidiary of Fair Trade USA

Marci Zaroff, Founder of Under the Canopy and the producer of the documentary, “Thread”

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