How we work

Were your clothes made in an ethical way? It’s a simple question that can be difficult to answer in today’s world. At Fair Wear, we know there’s a better way to make clothes, a way that puts the people who make them front and centre—and we’re determined to make that the new normal.

Practical steps to create more ethical clothing brands

We’re tackling complex problems by uncovering new solutions and driving step-by-step improvements that create real change for the people who work in garment factories. Four key activities make up the Fair Wear approach: brand performance checks, factory audits, complaints helplines and factory training sessions.

How we create a fair fashion norm

Brand Performance Checks

The way a brand manages its clothing production has an enormous influence on factory conditions and should be addressed if we want to change the way our clothes are made. The Brand Performance Check is a tool we use to figure out how our member brands’ business practices improve labour conditions. Every year, we review brands’ efforts by measuring how well they have assessed, identified and resolved issues with their suppliers. For example, we will check if a company’s production planning is realistic, making sure there are no late orders or unreasonable deadlines that could lead to excessive overtime. We then openly share these findings with the public.

We’ve seen first-hand the huge influence this can have. Brand Performance Checks help brands determine what they are doing well and where they can improve to create positive and sustainable change. Making the results of these checks open to the public ensures transparency and keeps our member brands accountable. The high level of transparency enhances our member brands’ credibility and sets a positive example that will hopefully inspire other brands to consider their own business practices.

Factory audits

To improve working conditions, we need to understand exactly what’s happening on the factory floor. That’s why we audit factories to find out how well they comply with the Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices and then follow up to see how successful they have been at making changes, together with the Fair Wear Foundation brands that work with them.

It works like this: local audit teams make their assessment through offsite and onsite interviews with workers, document inspections and health and safety inspections. They then share their findings and recommendations for improvement with the brand and factory management. The brand and factory management create a concrete action plan with a clear timeframe, keeping in mind that it may not be possible to solve every issue at once. It’s then up to the brand and the factory to work together to resolve the issues. We’ll check in on them later to see how this is going.

Factory training

Lasting change starts with empowering workers, and empowerment starts with education. Our Workplace Education Programme trains workers and management on the Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices, which is made up of eight labour standards that cover everything from what constitutes a living wage to what are reasonable working hours.

When both workers and management understand the meaning of safe and healthy working conditions, they can voice their concerns and make improvements. Our training modules foster open communication and facilitate safe spaces where both parties are free to speak openly. They cover how to deal with issues like sexual harassment and gender discrimination and highlight ways workers can raise concerns to management. Constructive dialogue is the basis that leads to positive outcomes for both sides.

Complaints helplines

Making sure workers are heard and listened to requires a method for voicing complaints. Our complaints helplines in major garment-producing countries serve exactly this purpose. When garment workers feel that their rights are being violated, or when others see this happen, they can file a complaint. We then immediately launch an investigation and require the brand to work with the factory to fix the problem. This process usually involves factory management and worker representatives, and we encourage our member brands to identify and address the root causes of the problem to ensure it doesn’t happen again. To maintain transparency, every complaint is posted on our website. This acts as a living record of what our member brands are doing to address and resolve any issues that arise at their factories.