2008 July 14

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This is the question that www.nosymbolrequired.co.uk asked. 

And the answer? 

Well, it was http://www.saftag.com which was given an overall rating of 5 stars, another 5 stars for item quality, 4 stars for item value and 5 stars for item fit and sizing.

Mark Wallace, who conducted the review said,  ‘I have had difficulty in the past sourcing good enough organic cotton t-shirts which will hold the reputation of my company. I used anvil organic tees for a while, which were in the correct price range, however they didn’t stand the test of time. SAF t-shirts are good quality, are not prone to misshaping after washing, and are easy to print on. The feel of the fabric is far superior to any other organic cotton tee I have managed to get my hands on. The sizes are acceptable and what you would expect. The colours are vibrant and also last well when washing.

His only quibble?

He wants to know when SAF will be bringing out a yellow tee!

 White organic T-shirt courtesy of SAF


2007 July 27

Terms such as ‘Fair Trade’ and ‘Organic materials’ have been interchanged so much that many think they denote the same thing.

In this article the important differences between the two terms will be explained, dispelling the myths and confusions surrounding both Organic materials and Fair Trade principles.

Organic Cotton:

  • So what’s the problem with non-organic Tees?

Nowadays stringent laws are in place to prevent harmful pesticides from being utilised on crops intended for consumption, however no such laws apply to the crops that will be used within the clothing industry. Non-organic materials that are used to create shirts have an extremely negative environmental and social impact. Cotton, the predominant material used for shirts, is sprayed liberally with a concoction of pesticides that damage the surrounding area and can seep into nearby water networks and poison the wildlife that depend on it. It is a fact that more pesticides are used on cotton than any other major crop. These pesticides are often administered by poorly paid, ill-equipped, untrained local farmers who suffer to provide the cotton needed for clothing companies. Recent studies have shown that an exposure to pesticides can lead to Parkinsons – read more on the BBC website Here.

  • So how does Organic Cotton help the environment?

Cotton can be grown following strict ethical principles, which forbid the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and genetically modified organisms. In their place organic fertilisers (such as manure) are used, this has no effect on the cotton produced compared to most conventional cotton fibres, other than the fact that it is pesticide and guilt-free.

  • How can I tell if my Tee-shirt was made using Organic Cotton?

There are certain labels to look out for including Skal’s “EKO” certification, widely regarded as one of the most respected organic certification. A full list of organic clothing standards and their labels can be found Here.

  • So the organic label ensures that workers have been paid a fair price as well, right?

No it doesn’t. And this is a problem which the ‘Fair Trade Mark’ seeks to address.

Fair Trade Cotton:

Fairtrade is a worldwide movement which endeavours to provide producers in developing countries with a fair price for their work, acceptable living conditions and generally improve their state of living. There are no public regulations for fair trade and the movement is not formally unified, meaning that anybody can claim to be trading its products fairly.

  • So how can I recognise if the product has genuinely been produced under Fair Trade guidelines?

The Fairtrade mark for seed cotton was first launched in the UK in November 2005.

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This mark ensures that cotton farmers and producers have received fair pay for their cotton. Fairtrade also ensures that farmers are safe from market price fluctuations, if there were a sudden drop in the world market price of cotton, farmers would still be entitled to the agreed amount. Fairtrade works hard to make sure that the community in these developing areas is also nurtured and looked after, setting aside a premium for community development projects, such as health centres.

  • Does this ‘Fairtrade mark’ cover manufacturing as well as farming?

Although the Fairtrade mark ensures that a shirt has been made with 100% fairly traded cotton this does not cover the processing and manufacture stages, only the farming. However processors and manufacturers are required to provide tangible evidence that certain minimum international legislation pertaining to labour rights are conformed to. This requirement is in place to guarantee that your Fairtrade shirt, in addition to using cotton produced by non-exploited farmers, has not been processed or manufactured in exploitative sweatshops or using child labour.

  • Why am I having difficulty in finding a shirt that is both Organic and uses Fairtrade cotton?

The fairtrade organisation endeavours to protect those in only the poorest and most needy of developing countries, such as Africa. The vast majority of organic cotton is grown in Turkey, which is not considered a developing country where farmers are under risk of exploitation. The only country where the fairtrade organisation works that currently produces organic cotton is India, therefore it is rare to find a certified organic shirt produced under the supervision of the Fairtrade organisation. However we here at polo-shirts.co.uk have endeavoured to provide you with an array of organic tees, one of which is certified as both Fairtrade and made using Eko-certified organic cotton.

  • So if I buy a shirt made using organic cotton the workers won’t have been paid a fair wage?

Not at all. The Fairtrade organisation endeavours to ensure that workers in developing countries are not exploited by following certain minimum international guidelines, many of which are kept to by countries growing organic cotton. However to be absolutely sure that your tee-shirt is made using organic cotton and is produced under fairtrade guidelines you will need to ensure that both marks are present, as in the Terreo Lotus Tee.


2007 July 25

As you may know the EU-imposed quotas against the import of ten categories of clothing and textiles from China is set to be lifted towards the end of this year. Experts predict, however, that this will not lead to the free and equal trading that some may expect. Whilst the more extreme elements of the European industry are petitioning for the limit to be extended until 2008 to protect the domestic market a more lenient solution is expected to be proposed as the EU is reluctant to enforce more quotas. Although free trade with China is not seen as a realistic possibility just yet a more relaxed attitude may well be the first step towards it.

This attitude is expected to be reflected in the change to policy when the import quota is lifted, it is assumed to be replaced by the so-called ‘anti-dumping’ policy, which investigates and condemns the sale of goods below the domestic price or below the cost of manufacturing.

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So what does this mean for the garment or textile importer interested in utilising the Chinese market, or indeed the European producer who wants protection? It is assumed by many that although the quotas will be lifted, what just-style.com describe as a “raft of other measures” will be implemented to protect the European manufacturer.

Good news for European textile and clothing manufacturers then, who will be protected from unfair trade practices. But those wanting hassle-free importing from China may have to wait a little longer.


2007 July 20

Ethical clothing comes in many shapes and sizes, but confusingly there are also many regulating groups that ensure clothing is truly ethical. I spoke at length about the Fairtrade organisation and label in a recent blog article (link) but it is definitely worth expounding upon the admirable work by the people at the Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) who fulfil a slightly different role in the fight for ethical production standards.

WRAP is an independent group consisting of a board of directors containing experts in relevant fields such as human rights, corporate responsibility, and the rule of law and professional inspectors that monitor the 600+ participating factories. Their stated aim is to “substitute arbitrary, duplicative, and costly inspections with a uniform measure of legal, ethical, and humane manufacturing practices”.

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The WRAP logo

WRAP is different in that, rather than an accreditation for a brand or company, it regulates specific factory conditions, ensuring that “manufacturers of Sewn Products will comply with laws and regulations in all locations where they conduct business”, will not use forced or child labour and “will provide a work environment free of harassment, abuse or corporal punishment in any form”. WRAP’s ultimate aim is for the adoption of consistent standards by all apparel manufacturers and the eradication of the duplication of monitoring to ensure that all apparel is manufactured in “lawful, humane and ethical conditions”.


2007 July 10

Just a quick mention for Gildan, who became the first basic activewear apparel manufacturer to receive Fair Labor Association Accreditation. To date only eight companies worldwide have been accredited by the FLA, the majority of which outsource their manufacturing.

The FLA are “a non-profit organization dedicated to ending sweatshop conditions in factories worldwide”. Accreditation is their most advanced recognition of a company’s labour compliance program, a company must participate in the program for a three-year period, during which the FLA verifies their compliance with its workplace code of conduct requirements, to be eligible.

“We are proud of achieving FLA accreditation,” said Glenn J. Chamandy, President and Chief Executive Officer, “which reinforces the values of social responsibility”.

Essentially the Accreditation ensures that all Gildan shirts are made in factories fully compliant with FLA standards of fair labour.

Impressively this is the first time that a brand that is also a manufacturer, factory owners themselves rather than simply companies who contract with foreign factories, have been accredited for the compliance programs they developed – so congratulations Gildan.


2007 February 7

I received this response from one of our customers.

Q. Would you consider selling fair trade t shirts – I was originally looking for some, but they were way too expensive. If you had been offering fair trade t-shirts for £2.50 (bulk) I would have bought them.

A. We here at Quayside Group are committed to supplying goods only from companies that share our commitment to high standards of business ethics.

We wholly support the need for Fair Trade in the worlds poorest countries.

We are aware that the consumer of the day is interested in more than just saving a few pennies but in the political, economic and environmental effect that the manufacturing of clothing has.

With this in mind we have recently introduced a range of Organic T-Shirts by Continental.

As well as being made from cotton that is grown without the need of harmful bleaches or chemicals they are also produced in accordance with the Fair Wear Foundation conditions.

The fair wear foundation aims to promote humane labour conditions in the garment industry.

To find out more visit http://www.polo-shirts.co.uk/Organic+Clothing