Improving working conditions at garment factories is a complex process, and it raises many questions. Here is a selections of the questions FWF often gets asked. They range from questions about the organisation, to supply chain examples, and how members can communicate their membership. We hope that you find the information you need here below. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us.
Fair Wear Foundation, an independent not-for-profit foundation, works with brands and industry influencers to improve working conditions where your clothing is made. FWF is active in 11 production countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.
FWF’s work includes:
- Checking that its members respect labour rights in their supply chains, and that brands are managed in a way that supports good working conditions
- Checking conditions in factories from which members source
- Offering worker complaint hotlines in production countries where FWF is active
- Ensuring cooperation between factories, brands and all other stakeholders
- Reporting on how members are implementing the FWF Code of Labour Practices
- Providing trainings
- Developing and testing innovative ways to improve working conditions at garment factories
FWF focuses on everything after fabric production. This means, the factories that make fabric into clothing, shoes, bags and other sewn goods: the cut, make, trim (CMT) and supporting processes of making a garment, such as finishing. This is a very labour-intensive part of the supply chain and the stage at which clothing brands have the most influence. Please see our consumer brochure for more information.
If problems are found – and every member will find problems sometimes – FWF requires the member or members involved to work with the factory to resolve the matter. If problems are reported via our complaints system, FWF will publish a report on the website. And FWF investigates the complaint and helps members set up a Corrective Action Plan with specific actions to solve the issue.
Leaving a factory when problems are found does nothing to improve the situation of workers. Terminating a business relationship with a factory can be harmful to the workers and we definitely see this as a last resort in case a factory is unwilling to cooperate.
Millions of garment workers around the world face poverty and violations of their rights every day. Because supply chains are complicated, there are many places where things can go wrong. FWF works with brands that take their responsibility for improving working conditions seriously and want to learn how to use their influence to make life better for the people who make their clothing. Most clothing brands don’t own the factories where their products are made, but they do have a lot of influence over how factories treat workers.
FWF and its brands believe in a step-by-step approach. Member brands are working on continuous improvements to come to real and lasting solutions.
About the Members
FWF members monitor conditions in their supply chains, adapt their management practices to support better working conditions, and resolve problems when they are found.
Member brands and factories share responsibility for worker welfare, so FWF believes they must work together to achieve sustainable improvements.
FWF membership is open to companies that produce their own sewn goods – clothing, bags, footwear, home textiles etc.
Companies do not have to be ‘perfect’ to join FWF. Our process approach meets companies where they are; some have years of experience in CSR; some are just entering the CSR field. Each company uses FWF guidance to identify areas where the changes they make can have the greatest impact.
FWF is piloting a factory membership with a small number of factories who already supply active affiliates of FWF. Factory membership is not open to other factories at this time.
FWF does not certify products as ‘100% fair’, so we apply strict conditions to the use of our logo on products.
Members with ‘Leader’ status, those members that have the most innovative practices to improve working conditions, are allowed to use a customised FWF logo.
FWF member brands are continuously looking for ways to improve working conditions at the factories where products are made. Every year they need to prove that they have taken substantial steps to making a positive impact in the garment industry. FWF publicly reports about their efforts on its website. If, on the other hand, a brand is not working to fulfil its FWF responsibilities, it is not allowed to remain a member.
We believe that our FWF member’s brands are already doing more than the average brand when it comes to having a positive impact in working conditions in the garment industry.
FWF’s approach is based on the idea that factory conditions are influenced by the behavior of brands. ‘Responsible’ suppliers can only exist if they have responsible brands as partners.
Unfortunately we cannot share FWF member’s production locations with you due to confidentiality agreements. Some companies may be willing to share this information if you were to reach out to them personally, especially if you are a small brand.
We encourage re-sellers to communicate about FWF member brands, but we do have some specific rules on how to use the FWF logo.
FWF COMMUNICATION RULES
1. Mentioning brand name: When communicating about a FWF member brand you
always have to mention the brand by name. This is because FWF believes in transparency. Without knowing the name of the brand, it is difficult to back up any claims about improvements in working conditions in the products that you sell, and consumers cannot check claims about the product independently.
2. Online communication: Always communicate general information about FWF in the ‘about’ section of a website or where you explain different labels and initiatives.
3. Use of FWF logo: You can use the general FWF logo when you give general information about FWF in the ‘about’ section of a website or where you explain different labels and initiatives. This logo cannot be used next to a garment or product in a catalogue or your (web)shop or on a garment itself. FWF does not certify products. It is important to have a design of your material that does not give the impression that garments are ‘certified’ by FWF, or that the label refers to a specific product.
Example of text to use
We sell products made by (member brand), a member of Fair Wear Foundation.
Fair Wear Foundation’s mission is to improve labour conditions for the hundreds
of thousands of workers involved making clothes for FWF member companies.
Learn more about FWF efforts at fairwear.org.
There’s no such thing as 100% fair clothing – yet. FWF does not certify products or brands as 100% fair. Supply chains are complex and fragmented – which means no single factory, brand or government can improve things alone. And this kind of change takes time and happens step-by-step. But FWF’s member brands are working hard to get there.
You can download the FWF logo here.
About the Supply Chain
Often in the garment Industry, the price that you as a consumer pay doesn’t reflect what garment workers make. Establishing a price for products also takes into account other costs like cloth, shipping and the packaging that you get your product in. As a FWF member company, one of the commitments is to work towards paying workers a higher wage, which may affect the price that you pay for garments.
For more on the relationship between pricing and labour costs, please see our report Climbing the Ladder.
FWF member brands are willing to take responsibility for everything that they sell. FWF membership focus on improving working conditions in the factories where products are cut, sewn and finished. This doesn’t mean that other parts of the process, like picking cotton, are free of risk. It also doesn’t mean that environmental issues are not important to.
There are other initiatives that look at those other risks in our supply chain.
There’s no such thing as 100% fair clothing – yet. But FWF’s member brands are working hard to get there. Supply chains are complicated and international – which means no single factory, brand or government can improve things alone. And this kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. So no, FWF doesn’t certify. We report, so you can check on how your favourite FWF member brands are performing.
About Media & Communication
The global apparel industry provides jobs and incomes to millions of people in factories around the world. If brands were to stop sourcing from these countries, the impact on workers would be severe.The question is less about whether clothing should be produced in a particular country; the question is how to improve conditions for workers where they are.
FWF believes that in nearly all situations, members have an opportunity and a responsibility to support the implementation of the Code of Labour Practices, rather than relocating production.
FWF welcomes questions from media outlets, bloggers and others interested in the work that we do. Please check our Press Page for more information.
It is very positive to see that so many students are interested researching human rights issues in the clothing industry. Given our limited resources, however, we are unable to provide individual interviews to students or complete additional questionnaires. You can find a great deal of information on our website, which we hope will help in answering your questions. In particular, take consult our about section, resources page and country information.
We are happy that you are interested in spreading the word about Fair Wear Foundation. If you want to showcase FWF’s work by adding the logo, we require that you also include some standard text that describes the FWF approach in your article/resource:
‘Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) works with European garment companies to improve labour conditions for workers in garment factories. FWF member brands take sufficient efforts to improve the working conditions in their supply chains. FWF checks how well each brand is doing and publicly reports about that. Compare your favourite clothing brands on www.fairwear.org.’
- Please also reach out to us to ask permission before using the FWF logo. If necessary, we can help you adapt this standard text to better suit your purpose. It is important that FWF is portrayed in a consistent manner in all communication materials.
You can download the FWF logo here.