CEO& Co-founder of Rossbelle, Thasneem Masood, strives to bring a change in the fashion industry not only by promoting sustainable fashion but also the practice of Fairtrade. She strongly believes that developing countries like India deserve to have viable trading conditions. Her opinion on Fairtrade was answered upon the questions asked.
What according to you is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade is basically about creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers through transparency and accountability. On other words, a trading system that considers the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize profit at their expense is my view on Fairtrade. Fairtrade is also about recognizing, promoting and protecting the cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers as reflected in their services and products. As of the sustainable part of Fairtrade, it is about maximizing the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible.
How will the producers of developing countries like India benefit out of Fairtrade?
In India Fairtrade International has been involved for over 19 years now. With Indian farmers growing cotton, spices, coffee, tea and rice, Fairtrade is providing them access to international markets, a minimum support price, as well as the Fairtrade premium. In 2012 alone, the financial benefit to farmers from the Fairtrade Premium over the Fairtrade Minimum Support Price was to the tune of Rs. 19.4 crores. They work with 1, 21,000 farmers across most Indian states.
How is this going to impact the fashion industry?
Fashion, nowadays, has become a mindless affair. Fashion dictionary of Fairtrade is ethical sourcing and production, fair wages to labour and transparency. Transparency is mandatory as consumers will be aware of who made their clothes and where it came from. The impact is very generous towards producers and farmers. Fair trade cotton companies are required to have a social compliance assessment for the garment production, which is assessed and accredited by external auditors. There are over 350 Fair Trade Organizations working with World Fair Trade Organisation in 70 countries. Many of these organizations specialize in a variety of traditional techniques in textiles, fashion, jewelry and accessories. This ensures that the profits from the sales of goods are going directly to the people who make them, and that workers are paid well and treated fairly.
Despite the benefits in Fairtrade, Many see the bad in good as well. What do you say about the criticisms of Fairtrade?
As consumers have become more conscious and concerned, they rely on corporate messages before making purchase decisions. And while some companies that greenwash consumers for profits there are brands who firmly believe in fair trade and ethical practices, who work closely with the makers on a socioeconomic level as well. On the whole, most greenwash is due to ignorance rather than untoward intent and hence it’s important that the consumers educate themselves more rather than depending on one source of information.
Thasneem Masood’s view on Fairtrade shows how significant this movement is to the farmers and producers, and how it has impacted the Fashion Industry.
Credits: FairTrade India and World FairTrade Organization