We get asked quite often about Fair Trade garments.


In my personal opinion the Fair Trade scheme has been fantastic. It’s brought awareness to the plight of farmers of many raw materials who’ve been exploited over the years. One of those materials very relevant to our trade is cotton.


Approximately five years ago one of the larger UK schoolwear manufacturers flirted with Fair Trade certification, whilst the scheme was still fresh and the term a buzz phrase. From what I understand from the manufacturers angle, and this is obvious of course, with the certification comes an increased cost per garment above ‘the norm’.


Aside from the obvious financial benefit to farmers another big facet is the fair treatment and equal opportunities afforded. Well the large plus side of the scheme to me has been to up everyone’s game across the board. This means manufacturers working closely with farmers and cultivating stable long term relationships, many even purchasing their own factories to ensure not just fair trade but fair treatment. It means retailers are more demanding of ethical and reputable sources of the clothing they supply and in turn consumers being more aware of the reasons that some garments are extremely cheap and others more expensive. Unless cost is reflected in a highly marketable big name brand then usually cost is indicative of the inherent quality of a garment or product.


In summary a slightly higher price does not always mean that the retailer is making a much higher margin – in our case, and our manufacturers/suppliers, it’s because the garment is functional and has a fair background and ethical source.


It’s even been written about in recent years that some larger firms with the FT certification have taken advantage of the cost insensitive consumer combined with the feel good factor, where the extra purchase cost involved hasn’t been commensurate with the extra cost incurred by the retailer. If you get a chance have a read of the excellent book Freakonomics.


At Brenda’s all of our suppliers and vetted for ethical policy throughout the supply chain. As well as accountable policies many operate and are involved in other schemes, both people centric and production orientated, included Investment in people, carbon neutral schemes, recycled products, WRAP, OEKO-TEX and more. Ultimately all work in one way or another to make the planet better and that’s one large reason why we work with them.


At the end of the day our garments may not be stamped Fair Trade with capital F and T but all are definitely fair trade in spirit!


Reading material




‘The objective of WRAP is to independently monitor and certify compliance with the socially responsible global standards for manufacturing. Its standards are applied to the manufacturing of garments. The purpose is to ensure that clothing is produced under lawful, humane and ethical conditions.’


Global Organic Textile Standard


‘The Global Organic Textile Standard is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.’




‘The OEKO-TEX® range of services is tailored to the specific needs and the situation of the textile industry. Due to this approach we can provide unique benefits and practical help for all businesses that commit themselves to responsible and sustainable management.’


Carbon Neutral


‘Carbon Neutral® is a global standard awarded to businesses which have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. This is usually achieved through a combination of internal emissions reductions and the purchase of environmental instruments including renewable energy certificates and carbon credits.’


Fair Trade


‘Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.

It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.’


David Luke Eco-uniform


‘All the garments in our Eco-uniform range contain polyester made from non-biodegradable plastic drinking bottles, which would otherwise end up in landfill. Each item consists of part or total polyester content made from recycled plastic bottles.’


Rowlinson Knitwear


‘Our suppliers are businesses that reflect our own core values of care, trust and continual improvement. We have long term relationships with our partners, some spanning more than a decade, and we take our responsibility seriously.

We believe that each of our colleagues is entitled to a fair wage in a safe environment. Each factory undergoes an annual rigorous check to UK standards which includes structural surveys of buildings. Our QC staff are based in Asia, they report into our off shore Director based in Asia. The whole team is highly responsible for rigorous standards.’


Trutex Carbon Neutral


‘Trutex is the UK’s first Carbon Neutral Specialist Schoolwear Provider

Here at Trutex we are driven to do our best for children. Our commitment goes much further than Made To Last Schoolwear, we believe we have a part to play in ensuring our world is a better place for all future generations. For this reason we have worked hard over recent years to reduce our Carbon Footprint, and we are extremely proud to be a Carbon Neutral Schoolwear provider for the second year running.’