Supporting our member brands

Fair Wear member brands are committed to improving the lives of garment workers around the world. They are already going above and beyond the industry norm to improve conditions at the factories of their suppliers,and we’re here to support them every step of the way.

Support comes in many forms, but it all starts with the Fair Wear new member seminar which takes place twice a year. During the seminar, we walk member brands through the basics of Fair Wear membership and introduce them to their brand liaisons who will guide them through what lies ahead. In the first year, that mainly means getting ready for their first Brand Performance Check.

Brand Performance Checks—tracking our brands’ progress

The Brand Performance Check is a core element of Fair Wear membership. It’s a tool we use to figure out how our member brands’ have worked to improve labour conditions and a chance for them to publicly report that progress. Every year, we review brands’ efforts by measuring how well they have assessed, identified and resolved issues with their suppliers in the past year. This can look like many things. For example, we will check if a company’s production planning is realistic, making sure there are no late orders or unreasonable deadlines that could lead to excessive overtime. We then openly share these findings with the public.

This is a unique approach that sets Fair Wear apart and has many benefits.

Brand Performance Checks:

  • Strengthen Fair Wear member brands’ accountability
  • Clearly communicate brand successes
  • Make progress and needs visible to colleagues within an organisation(i.e. buyers, production managers and other stakeholders)
  • Provide targeted feedback to brands on how to improve
  • Offer a clear improvement or exit path for under-performing brands
  • Serve as a tool for consumers to learn more about member brands

Brand Performance Checks recognise that the management and purchasing decisions of clothing brands have an enormous influence on factory conditions and that this should be addressed if we want to change the way our clothes are made. ‘What we see is that brand’s internal processes highly influence labour conditions on the factory floor. This is one of the key things we evaluate during the Performance Check. Because at the end of the day, it’s really difficult to fix a problem if you aren’t aware that you’re the one causing it,’ explains Anne van Lakerveld, Fair Wear brand liaison.

It’s really difficult to fix a problem if you aren’t aware that you’re the one causing it.

Anne van Lakerveld, Fair Wear brand liaison

The first Brand Performance Check happens after the first year of membership. Throughout the first year, brand liaisons help brands prepare. They explain in detail the different aspects of the check and how to deal with them. After the first Brand Performance Check is complete, liaisons then help member brands make sense of the results and determine the next steps.

Want to see what a Brand Performance Check looks like? Check out the latest one from Suit Supply.

Webinars and training programmes give Fair Wear member brands targeted guidance

Once we pinpoint where a member brand can improve, brand liaisons recommend webinars and training programmes that can help them address specific issues. There are two types of training programmes we offer: our Workplace Education Programme and our Brand Awareness Training Programme. Workplace Education Programme modules take place in the factories of Fair Wear suppliers. They train workers and management on their rights and help them strengthen communication. The Brand Awareness Training Programme is for member brands. It shows them how they can adjust their internal company practices and processes to better the lives of workers. In addition to these two programmes, we also have tailored webinars that keep our member brands informed on various aspects of Fair Wear membership and offer additional help on specific issues like gender-based violence or establishing living wages.

Fair Wear audits ensure member brands know exactly what’s happening in factories

Another key way we help our member brands is by providing auditing support. A main requirement of Fair Wear membership is that member brands become fully aware of what’s going on in the factories of their suppliers. That’s why they need to carefully monitor the situation at their suppliers. One way for brands to meet the monitoring targets is by asking Fair Wear teams to conduct factory audits. Fair Wear local audit teams conduct thorough assessments and report their findings back to the brand and factory. This lets member brands know the current situation on the factory floor and helps them identify where they can work to make improvements. During Brand Performance Checks we see how brands are doing with their monitoring targets. Later on down the line, Fair Wear teams conduct verification audits to see how successful the brand has has been at making changes.

Auditing shows us what’s working, what isn’t and what brands should focus on next.

Anne van Lakerveld, Fair Wear brand liaison

Complaints Helplines help member brands pinpoint problems by helping workers speak out

Complaints helplines are central to our work at Fair Wear. These phone lines are available for workers to safely voice their concerns and complaints. They not only help Fair Wear member brands identify problems, but also act as living record of what they are doing to address them. This way, brands and suppliers both are held accountable for what’s happening on the factory floor. We support our member brands in handling the complaints. Often our local teams play a big role in researching the complaint and finding appropriate solutions. Learn more about complaints helplines.

Every Fair Wear member brand is unique, which means our support won’t look exactly the same from brand to brand. The constant is that no matter a brand’s challenges or needs, we’re hereto help them succeed at every step of the way.