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prAna Expands Fair Trade Programme

“I think it’s important for all of us to understand that we have the potential really to change the world. It’s by looking at what we make and how we make it, but it’s also by inspiring others to create change.”  – Russ Hopcus, President, praNa

In 2010, prAna was the first North American apparel company to partner up with Fair Trade USA, a non-profit organisation that certifies goods manufactured in developing countries meeting specific standards in terms of wages, individual or community well-being and environmental impact. It then produced the Soul Tee by Fair Trade standards.

Today, the brand has converted many of its factories to Fair Trade Certified™ and has enlarged the number of Fair Trade styles to 19% over all collections. What started out with a single Tee has evolved into a line of lifestyle and yoga apparel, supporting fair working and living conditions.

In time for exhibiting at OutDoor by ISPO, Europe’s largest outdoor trade show, prAna presented its new ‘Clothing for positive change’ message. Credit: JT Archive

With every Fair Trade Certified product purchased, prAna pays an additional premium that goes into a community development fund administrated by a democratically-voted committee. Farmers and workers decide together on how to spend the funds to meet their social, economic or environmental needs.

A major challenge within fair trade apparel is getting the logistics of supply chain and production to be Fair Trade certified. From restricted materials to waste management to women’s rights, there’s a long list of standards that a manufacturer has to deliver. The process requires the will to re-think every step of a product’s life circle and to invest in maintaining those standards.

Integral to the challenge is educating consumers about the choices they can make and why a higher price point comes with supporting better choices for people and the planet. Ashley Swapp, Digital Content Coordinator, said, “We are at this time where as consumers we have the power to purchase pieces of clothing that not only are beautiful and well-made but those choices also affect people and environments in a positive way.”

In the 2020 summer collection, more than 85% of all styles have at least one sustainable attribute. These include bluesign, fair trade, organic materials, recycled materials, hemp, Tencel, RDS down and others.

prAna runs sustainable operations on several levels – from bottom to top. From resources to production and packaging, the company strives to keep its ecological footprint as small as possible.

So far, prAna has converted nine of its production facilities to Fair Trade Certified with the conversion of four more to be finalised by the end of 2019. Since the brand started to produce Fair Trade Certified clothing, it has given back over $400,000 to workers worldwide.

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