Friday, June 06, 2008

Sweatfree tees on College Campuses

The U.S. government isn't always the best source for information on Fair Trade, but I was happy to give a background interview to the news service, , on the history of the Fair Trade movement and how it relates to apparel. The resulting article features the t-shirt company of my friend and colleague, Joe Falcone.

I think the article does a pretty good job of sketching out the problems some of us in the Fair Trade movement have with so-called "Fair Trade" clothing. Currently there is no certification for the vast and complicated clothing value chain and industry-created standards are themselves hard to verify.

Still, the scale and transparency of Joe's operations build confidence in me. He works directly with nongovernmental organizations in Bangladesh, his business model is based on the success of pioneers such as Equal Exchange, and his sales pitch is always wrapped up with consumer education (I know because he gives free copies of my book away!) With trail-blazers like Joe building long-term relationships, rooting their work in solid Fair Trade principles, and sharing financial benefits with workers, I am proud to wear my UCONN and University of Madison t-shirts from Counter Sourcing. I'm also hoping that enough consumers will get behind companies like Joe's to ensure their success. Consumer interest and the pressure to prevent consumer confusion will help the Fair Trade movement focus on how we can claim clothing as part of our efforts at economic justice.


  1. Fair Indigo is a fair trade clothing company just 20 minutes from the University of Wisconsin. We have a wide varity of fair trade and organic clothing for men, women, and infants.

    Let me know if you would like more information about our products or our mission. You can find out more at our website:

    Rachel from Fair Indigo

  2. Rachel,

    Thanks for the comment. I will actually be visiting Fair Indigo next month as part of my day job with Catholic Relief Services

    CRS is interested in how Fair Trade principles can be applied to products such as clothing, so we look forward to learning about your model! And I look forward to meeting you.

    If other readers have clothing companies to recommend, please post 'em.