Some brands are struggling to be recognized for their fair trade values, despite the success of the brand.
But others, including some brands with long histories in the apparel industry, need a brand that has a real fair trade value to attract customers.
The Fair Trade movement has brought a new level of transparency to the fair market, but it also has come at a cost to some brands, said David Gershon, director of the Center for the Study of Fair Trade at Harvard University.
Gershon and his colleagues recently published an article called The Trouble with Fair Trade Brands: A Tale of Two Models, in which they argue that brands can achieve a fair market value through a fairtrade brand that also provides a tangible benefit to consumers.
Some brands are not so lucky.
“They are very vulnerable, because if they are not in a position to sell a fair product to consumers, it is not a fair brand,” Gerson said.
That’s a reality for a lot of brands, especially small, niche brands.
“If you look at brands that have long histories of fair trade production, they are very likely to be struggling, and that’s not good for consumers,” Geringon said, adding that small, mid-sized, and niche brands that are struggling can’t compete in a fair and fair marketplace.
He said some small businesses can still survive on fair trade sales through direct-to-consumer marketing, but “the bulk of small businesses do not have the capacity to make that kind of product.”
According to Gersons research, small, midsize and niche businesses account for roughly 20% of the global clothing industry.
And in the U.S., they make up almost half of the apparel retail market.
While small, medium and medium-sized businesses account to about 30% of apparel sales, their impact is felt in the fashion industry.
Gershoff said they account for 40% of fair market sales in the industry.
“The big brands and the bigger companies that have very long histories, that have been producing fair trade products, they’re in a better position to survive,” Gherson said of small, small and mid-size companies.
For instance, Gersonis research found that the clothing and accessories business has seen its share of growth over the past 20 years, with the proportion of sales going to smaller and mid market businesses increasing by about 15% over the same period.
Small, medium-size and mid sized businesses also account for about half of all fashion retail sales in China, where they account to nearly 10% of all sales.
Even though these small businesses are making up less than 15% of clothing sales in a country that accounts for roughly 70% of global apparel sales (and about 80% of fashion sales), they make a real difference, said Matthew Biederman, CEO of the International Fair Trade Institute.
In the U, he said, small companies can be especially vulnerable, and for good reason.
“A lot of small and medium companies in the marketplace can’t survive in a market where they are competing with big corporations that are able to sell products at the cost of lower quality,” Biedermans research found.
According the study, a lot companies fail to recognize this fact.
Many of the smaller and midsize companies that make up the majority of the clothing retail market are “subsidiaries” of larger companies, said Biederms research.
Biederman said there are some small, smaller and medium businesses that are strong enough to survive.
It’s possible to identify these businesses, he added, but not the big brands.
One of the challenges that small and midsized businesses face, he noted, is finding the right brand to be a good fit for them.
So, he suggested, “it is a mistake to think that all of the big companies are going to come out with a fair-trade product, that you will be able to have a better product that is going to be able be better for you, but you will still have to pay for it.
You need to find the right one.”
It is not always a matter of simply putting out a fair price, but making sure the products are made with fair labor, fair products and fair prices, said Gersoni.
There are some companies that are successful that are willing to pay fair prices and pay workers fair wages, he argued.
However, there are many smaller, midsized and small companies that do not want to pay a fair wage.
They just want to make a living, Ghersoni said.
“They want to be in the clothing business, and they want to do well,” he said.
“And they want you to pay them a fair rate.
They don’t want to charge a price that they’re not willing to sell to you.”
The problem, he pointed out, is