Fair Wear Foundation welcomes ECG!

date: 24/05/2018

FWF is very happy to welcome The European Clothing Group (ECG) as a new member company. ECG contains eight fashion brands, selling both women’s and men’s wear in a range of looks and styles.

Alexander Talpe, director of the ECG European Clothing Group, and FWF Director Alexander Kohnstamm signed the FWF Code of Labour Practices on Thursday in Poperinge, Belgium. ‘We’re very happy to welcome ECG as a new member today’, said Alexander Kohnstamm. ‘The brand is clearly serious about improving labour conditions in their supply chain, a vision that is shared within the whole company.’

‘It has been a wish to join FWF for a couple of years’, said Alexander Talpe. ‘We believe we as ECG need to take responsibility, not only towards our customers and own employees, but also towards the people who make our products, the environment and the communities in which we operate.’

ECG designs and produces different brands for e5 mode, a Belgian fashion retailer. The ECG group sells its garments in Belgium, The Netherlands, Slovenia and Croatia.

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Suistudio joins Fair Wear Foundation

date: 24/05/2018

Fair Wear Foundation welcomes Suistudio as its newest member. Suistudio launched in fall 2017 and is the sister brand to Suitsupply, one of FWF’s leader brands.

The women’s clothing brand has a flagship store in Amsterdam and shops in Shanghai and New York. Suistudio mainly sells women suits, but also jumpsuits, dresses and T-shirts.

‘Suistudio is the first FWF brand with such a big selection of women’s suits’, says FWF Associate Director Margreet Vrieling. ‘We hope that they will make similar improvements to Suitsupply.’

Suistudio is excited to become a FWF member. ‘By joining Fair Wear Foundation, we are demonstrating our commitment to the continuous improvement and oversight that is crucial to driving meaningful social change’, says Roos Fleuren, chief product officer of Suitsupply and Suistudio.

The first Brand Performance Check for Suistudio will take place following the company’s initial year of membership, and will be published on the Suistudio page.


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Social dialogue to support decent working conditions in Romania

date: 09/05/2018

We recently facilitated a seminar in Romania, bringing together suppliers, stakeholders and researchers to showcase examples of doing business while supporting decent working conditions.

Romanian garment factories, a local union and stakeholder initiatives were present to discuss and share best practices.

Syndex, a consultancy organisation for employee representatives and trade unions in Europe, provided insights into their research project on living wages and how they a calculated a living wage benchmark for a specific factory.

The Research Institute for Quality of Life (ICCV) explained how they calculate the basic needs basket (the set of goods and services essential for a person or a family to meet their basic needs) for the Romanian context.

And a trade union member shared the benefits of having a trade union active in their factory.

After sharing the detailed practices, there was time to discuss the most common issues in the garment industry in Romania and together the participants drafted a number of solutions and the roles the different actors could play in working towards these solutions.

The intimate setting encouraged dialogue, interaction and a great level of knowledge exchange among stakeholders. As such, the participants committed to continue sharing best practices and increasing collaboration between Syndex and suppliers to conduct more living wage studies in other factories.

Curious to know more about working conditions in Romania? Check out our country guide.

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We’re hiring a Brand Liaison Officer!

date: 02/05/2018

We are hiring a Brand Liaison Officer to manage a number of our member companies, and support new companies interested in FWF membership.

As part of the role, you will provide guidance to member companies on their CSR strategy across the supply chain; and run performance assessments of our members.

If you share our drive to prevent and remedy workplace injustices and promote labour rights, and you have an affinity with the garment industry, we’d like to hear from you! We’re looking for someone with 5-7 years of relevant professional experience and knowledge of apparel industry and international supply chains.

View the full job description here.

If you are interested, please send your CV with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 7 May 2018.


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Breaking the Silence

date: 01/05/2018


This International Workers’ Day, Fair Wear Foundation releases its report ‘Breaking the Silence: The FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme.’

Violence and harassment against women and men is a widespread issue in the world of work that affects all occupations and sectors. It is especially prevalent in the garment industry, which employs a high number of women, often in lower-paid, lower-power positions.

‘A large majority of women garment workers have faced some kind of harassment,’  Suhasini Singh, FWF India country representative.

FWF, recognising the importance of tackling this issue at the factory level, launched the FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme in 2012. The aim of the Programme is to establish effective systems to address and prevent violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work.

The workers, supervisors and management receive training on gender-based violence, the local legal framework, and on workplace harassment committees. Often the issues being covered are new to the participants.

‘Most only think of a sexual offence or brutal physical violence. They don’t see verbal abuse or shouting as harassment or violence.’ Ambalika Roy, a FWF trainer with MARG

The training concludes with the establishment of a functioning workplace harassment committee. In order to ensure these committees are functional, FWF works with them for at least a year empowering the committee members and entrenching the committee in the workplace culture.

Brands too have a role in preventing and addressing violence and harassment. Production pressure—including price pressure and lead time pressure in factories—is linked to violence and harassment

‘Brands can influence the production pressure at the factory. If production pressure continues to be unreasonably high, harassment and violence at work cannot be tackled,’ Stephanie Karl, FWF verification officer.

The programme has been implemented in 78 factories across Bangladesh and India, training hundreds of supervisors and managers, and thousands of workers. But the results can be seen beyond the numbers.

The most notable achievement of the Programme so far is that workers have started to speak up. They are more confident and feel empowered. You can see it in their faces.’ Bablur Rahman, FWF Bangladesh representative

To learn more, download the full report here.

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Looking back on a successful first Facebook Live Q&A Marathon

date: 25/04/2018

On Fashion Revolution Day – Tuesday 24 April- seventeen Fair Wear Foundation brands opened up online and gave a unique backstage look at what they are doing to make a concrete, lasting difference in the lives of the workers who make their clothes. What a commitment of these brands to answer questions from consumers on the spot!

We were live for more than 9,5 hours and the videos have been viewed more than 31,000 times so far. We are really happy with the results: with this marathon we made a good step towards transparency and we hope this will inspire more brands to open up. The garment industry has great potential to contribute to workers’ lives, and fair supply chains are possible. To make this happen, we need all brands and all other players in this industry on board.

If you missed the livestream, you can watch all videos on our Facebook pageThe videos are organised per brand so you can zoom straight to the brand of your choice and hear what they had to say about their approach to fair fashion.

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FWF op-ed: Five Years after Rana Plaza: we need all brands on board

date: 23/04/2018

Five years ago today, over 1,000 garment workers were killed when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Since then, certain responsible garment brands have made remarkable progress towards improving factory safety. However, problems are still widespread, deeply rooted and include many other labour-rights issues. We need a transformation of this industry. To make that happen, all garment brands need to take on an active role and be held accountable for what happens in their supply chains.

There are signs of change. Some of our visits to Bangladeshi factories in recent years have been quite encouraging. We can see that the Bangladesh Accord managed to achieve specific improvements in structural, fire, and electrical safety at garment factories. Other industry initiatives demonstrated the benefit of uniting coalitions of leading garment brands to work on better conditions. However, the brands that do use their leverage to try to improve garment workers’ lives do not cover all garment factories worldwide, not even those in Bangladesh.

Dictating the laws
We need all brands on board. Say you own a garment brand and you also want workers at the opposite end of the supply chain to profit from the brand’s successes, as they should. You start discussing wages and safety measures with factory managers. They are happy to work with a brand that is willing to share responsibility.  

You’re confident that you will succeed in creating change, especially if you’re joining forces with other brands that source from that factory. You purchase 10 percent of the factory’s output. Another well-known brand buys 50 percent and 11 others only a small share. However, they appear to be less interested in your mission, which means you can only achieve so much.

Brands are hardly ever a factory’s only buyer. They usually don’t own or manage the factories from which they source. They also do not dictate the laws of garment production countries. Still, brands have tremendous leverage over both. They have economic power to demand improvement of conditions. And as the main beneficiaries and drivers of the garment industry, brands have a huge responsibility for the welfare of the workers who make their clothes.

Who made your clothes?
Along with quality and price requirements, garment brands can also call for decent working conditions. First they need to know exactly where their clothes are actually made, understand their supply chain and the risks of (hidden) subcontractors. Brands must scrutinise their suppliers, conduct research and resolve problems with the factory when they occur; it’s all too easy to do a quick check of factories and decide that nothing is wrong and that it should come down to the factory to solve matters.

Also, the purchasing practices of brands have a huge influence, positive or negative, on the lives of employees in clothing factories. Brands need to be willing to change their business practices, like better production planning to reduce pressure on factories, and adjusting prices.

Bad for business
No garment brand would say that they want to produce their clothes at the expense of the workers who sew them. This is bad for people, business and reputation. Consumers, civil society and governments are placing mounting pressure on brands to start working on safer workplaces and to be more transparent. International guidelines and -in some countries- changing regulations also mean that brands have an increased duty to ensure that their clothing is produced under good conditions. Change is in motion and brands need to get on board before they get left behind.

Everyone on board
There are garment brands (at Fair Wear Foundation we know them all too well) that are investing in trying to make a concrete, lasting difference in the lives of garment workers. Although these brands aren’t perfect, they do act and achieve results. However, they cannot resolve the issues on their own, and it’s not just in their supply chains that problems occur. We need all brands on board.

And not just the brands either, but everyone else. In most cases, you can only do so much before it comes down to a need for systemic change in the industry. Therefore we also need governments, NGOs, factories, garment workers, trade unions, and consumers to contribute their strengths.

Great potential
Wages are often too low and overtime persistent. There is violence and harassment on the factory floor. But the garment industry doesn’t have to be like this. On the contrary: the industry has great potential to contribute positively to women workers’ lives, and fair supply chains are possible. All garment brands must take responsibility for what they sell. We know that sustainable changes don’t happen overnight, but brands can and should start tomorrow. Not by creating only one sustainable product in their collections, but by changing the way they do business in order to support positive changes at factories and contribute to ensuring garment production countries flourish.  

Margreet Vrieling
Associate Director of Fair Wear Foundation

(This op-ed was published on Tuesday 24 April on The Fashion Law)


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date: 17/04/2018

On Fashion Revolution Day—Tuesday 24 April—a group of Fair Wear brands will join a live online Q&A marathon. The garment brands will answer questions on the spot about what they are doing to improve labour conditions for garment workers.

Seventeen Fair Wear Foundation members will join the Facebook Livestream. They will give a unique backstage look at what they are doing to make a concrete, lasting difference in the lives of the workers who make their clothes. After 30 minutes of Q&A, the next brand will take the stage.

Facebook Live QA Schedule Fashion Revolution Week

Do they visit their factories? What does it mean to be a member of Fair Wear Foundation? How do they prove that they have taken substantial steps towards better labour conditions? What are their plans for the future?

The participating brands will answer these and other questions on the Fair Wear Foundation Facebook page on Tuesday 24 April. FWF staff from Bangladesh, India and Myanmar will also join the marathon to respond to questions.

Find out what time your favourite brand tunes in and set the date in your agenda!

Date: Tuesday 24 April 2018
Time: 10:00 CET
Location: Fair Wear Foundation Facebook page

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First international field trip for new FWF director

date: 17/04/2018

FWF’s new director Alexander Kohnstamm just returned from his first FWF trip in Asia. Alexander visited Bangladesh and India, two of FWF’s most important garment production countries.

Alexander’s first stop was Dhaka, Bangladesh. The purpose of this mission, which took place from 31 March to 4 April, was to meet relevant stakeholders and partner organisations and get a sense of the labour conditions in the garment sector, both formal and informal.

Breaking the silence
The mission was conducted jointly with Catelene Passchier, vice-chair of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Catelene and Alexander presented the Dutch Ambassador in Bangladesh with Breaking the Silence, a new FWF publication on the violence and harassment prevention programme in Bangladesh and India.

During the trip, Alexander joined an audit and met members of a factory’s anti-harassment committee. He also visited stakeholders including the ILO, IndustriALL, the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Bangladesh Accord. The meetings generated interesting discussions on the new legal minimum wage level, pricing policies of brands and the threshold for union registration.

Alexander continued on to India, visiting stakeholders and factories and gaining a good first impression of the FWF work in the region. ‘Fair Wear brands and the factories they work with, have made good progress’, he said. ‘At the same time, there is room for improvement, for example in making sure that workers have access to free labour unions and receive a living wage.’

Find out more about our work in India and Bangladesh.


country: bangladesh
Labour standards:

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FWF urges Cambodian government to take action on labour rights

date: 22/03/2018

Fair Wear Foundation has joined other influential organisations in signing a letter urging the Cambodian government to take immediate action to promote labour rights.

The letter reinforces the organisations’ worries about recent developments in the country, which have weakened human rights protection and undermined progress towards improved worker rights.

Big international brands
The other signatories of the letter were Amfori, the Fair Labour Organization, the Ethical Trading Initiative, American Apparel and Footwear Association, and Social Accountability International. These organisations represent major international brands and retailers across Europe and the U.S., including more than 200 buyers who source Cambodian garments, footwear, and travel goods.

Some FWF members are sourcing from Cambodia, but FWF is not active in the country. CNV Internationaal, FWF’s partner in the Strategic Partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation, is. CNV has direct relations with local trade unions in Cambodia that have been faced with charges.

You can read a copy of the letter here.


country: cambodia
Labour standards:

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