Why Fair Wear’s approach to living wages matters

We innovate and experiment to create widespread change and share our tools across the industry

It’s not just about the practices of our member brands: the Fair Wear approach offers opportunities for change that resonate far and wide. The entire garment industry needs to change.

Envisioning change

You could think of Fair Wear as a nimble laboratory for experimentation on living wages and other challenging workplace issues. Part of what makes Fair Wear an interesting space for ‘research and development’ is our Brand Performance Check system. 

The Brand Performance Check system delivers a mix of brand motivation and public accountability that offers the industry a critical testing ground for ideas and concepts. When used as part of a larger strategy for industry change, such ground can be fertile. Indeed, if the past is any indicator, some of the biggest leaps in business behaviour are based on success stories by leading companies that show that better is indeed possible. We call such stories ‘beacons.’

‘Beacons’: showcasing the ways forward

We seek to develop compelling ‘beacons’ for living wages in the industry. Brand trial and error can provide new insights into ‘how’ to achieve real change. We’ve developed our living wage tools and guidance (like our Labour-Minute Costing Calculators) through the experimentation and lessons learned by some of our leading members. And we’re committed to keep sharing these real-world examples.

Guidance tools

For years, we’ve been developing tools and guidance that members and stakeholders can use to improve workers’ wages. Most of the current tools link to one of the stages in the Wage Increase Cycle.

In our experience, targeted tools are the key to concrete action. For example, our Labour Minute Costing Calculators equip managers and trade unions to calculate the effect a wage increase (e.g. a minimum wage hike or payment of a living wage) will have on the product cost a t-shirt or pair of jeans. Such information can entirely transform the dynamic of price negotiations between brands and the factories that make their goods.  Such negotiations currently tend to focus on meeting brand cost-cutting targets that do not take workers’ wages into account at all.