Patagonia has been making strides in the industry, proving the success that can stem from ethical business processes. Patagonia is facing the facts and addressing the often hard to talk about working conditions within the garment industry. These include grinding long days, hazardous working environments, and poorly paid people living in places without a lot of opportunity. Patagonia is working towards bridging the gap between consumers who want to have a positive impact with their purchasing power and organisations taking steps to adhere to transparency and ethical supply chains.

These days, the latest bushwalking news including route maps, water sources, and trail conditions can be found with a click of a button, yet finding out how your gear is actually made can be beyond difficult. To heighten their levels of transparency, Patagonia has committed to creating a portion of their line strictly in Fair Trade Certified™ facilities.

So, what does this really mean?

To break it down, for every piece of gear Patagonia makes, they pay a premium that their workers can then use to elevate their standard of living. Furthermore, the certification encompasses mandatory standards for safe working conditions and environmental responsibility that the factories must comply with.

A factory is fair trade certified when complies with the following items:

  • Rigorous standards for health and safety
  • Respect for the environment
  • No child or forced labour
  • Maternity and paid leave
  • Community empowerment
  • Additional money back to workers

How does it work? The program is simple: For every Fair Trade Certified™ item sewn, Patagonia pays an excess for the workers involved in the fabrication process. The money goes into an account controlled by the workers. This is not a top-down program but one run in each case by a democratically elected Fair Trade worker committee that decides how the funds will be used, whether designated for social, economic and environmental community projects like private health care or a child care centre, or as a cash bonus that gets workers directly closer to a living wage.

Paddy Pallin is proud to stock some of Patagonia’s fantastic Fair Trade line, including the men’s and women’s Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, men’s and women’s Classic Synchilla Jacket, men’s and women’s Better Sweater Vest, as well as the men’s and women’s line of Patagonia’s Better Sweater Jacket (including the men’s and women’s 1/4 zip fleece).

Rugged up in Patagonia for Winter in the Blue Mountains

Paddy Pallin Customers, Tia & Saige, wearing their Patagonia Fair Trade Certified Gear for their winder adventures in the Blue Mountains.

With these elevated levels of transparency, it’s becoming increasingly simple to drill down and find out who’s really behind the production of the gear we know and love.

Patagonia Fair Trade - People Behind the Product

We’re thrilled about these industry strides, and our Paddy Pallin community members are loving that they can get premium quality gear with the assurance that all parties involved are benefiting from this program.

All in all, Fair Trade Pays Off

Patagonia has reported over 42 thousand workers have been positively impacted by Patagonia’s Fair Trade Certified™ program.

The organisation has partnered with Fair Trade USA since 2014 to bring fair trade clothes to consumers. To this day, Patagonia proudly produces the most Fair Trade products among all apparel brands. The “Fair Trade Certified” symbol can be recognised to assure customers that a portion of the retail price is coming full circle to benefit the product’s producers and their local community.

Patagonia’s partnership strives to additionally promote worker health and safety, social and environmental compliance, and simultaneously encourages open dialogue between workers and management.

They recount a time where after learning that that Fair Trade committee members were considering spending some of their premium to build a cooking facility, management at Pratibha Syntex, a supplier factory in India, recognised it as something they should provide and paid for the new kitchen from company funds.

Patagonia claims that Fair Trade is their first step on the path toward paying living wages throughout the supply chain – and in doing so, they are encouraging other industry players to follow suit. Similar to many other large organisations, Patagonia does not own any of the factories in which their products are made, and as a result, have restricted control over how workers are compensated. The Fair Trade Certification program puts the ball back in Patagonia’s court, allowing them to supplement worker’s wages while offering tangible benefits to improve their quality of life, both in and out of the workplace.

On the flip side, Fair Trade offers ethically minded customers a way to have a voice with their purchases. Patagonia believes “by choosing to purchase a Fair Trade garment, you are casting a vote for good values, an all too rare opportunity in our global economy.”

Fair Trade isn’t the only program on Patagonia’s Environmental and Social Responsibility radar – programs like their Worn Wear Program encourage a break in the traditional consumption cycle, providing customers with an opportunity to repair the gear that tells their story and ultimately divert it from landfill, and curve the need to continuously buy new gear. Learn more about Patagonia’s Worn Wear Program here.

#ExperienceIsEverything #PaddyPallin #Patagonia #FairTrade

About The Author


Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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