Dressmann, one of the leading fashion chains for menswear in Northern Europe, is set to become the world’s biggest fashion retailer of Fairtrade certified cotton when it launches a new range of t-shirts, boxer shorts and socks.
Dressmann has also committed to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 in an effort to improve social and environmental conditions across its entire supply chain. Fairtrade cotton farmers in India will benefit from increased Fairtrade sales and plan to invest in education projects and increasing environmentally friendly production.
“We are proud to be able to launch a range of clothing made from Fairtrade certified cotton, making us the biggest player in the sector! The Fairtrade label will initially launch on basic garments that are always in store, but this is just the beginning of our journey with Fairtrade, and we plan to introduce more clothing lines in Fairtrade certified cotton by 2018”, said Chessa Nilsen, Sustainability Lead at Dressmann.
The move will see the Norwegian apparel chain launch its new range of t-shirts, boxers and socks made from Fairtrade certified cotton in up to 500 stores across Europe in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria and Germany, making them the largest global buyer of Fairtrade certified cotton in the apparel sector. The commitment means that the farmers who grew their cotton have met Fairtrade’s rigorous social, economic and environmental standards.
“It’s exactly when big volumes such as these are traded on Fairtrade terms that Fairtrade can have a truly transformative impact on cotton farming communities and their environment across Africa, Asia and Latin America. We hope that Dressmann’s Fairtrade commitment will inspire other major fashion brands and retailers to follow suit and scale up”, says Subindu Garkhel, Fairtrade’s Global Cotton Manager.
Great boost for farmers in India
In India, over 2,400 cotton farmers from Fairtrade certified cooperative Noble Ecotech have already benefitted from Fairtrade cotton sales. They have been able to purchase farm equipment, water tanks and school equipment for local children, and installed drainage in all fields, reducing their water consumption by approximately 40 percent.
“Before, we had to buy seeds and other farm inputs from local merchants each year and found ourselves in spiralling debt to them. Now, the Fairtrade-certified cooperative we are all members of buys cotton seed in large quantities which they sell to us farmers for a reasonable price. The cooperative buys all the cotton we grow and sells it for us. This means that individual farmers no longer have to chase buyers single-handedly”, farmer Chatr Singh explained recently when Dressmann’s parent company Varner and Fairtrade Norway visited India in October.
Farmers from Noble Ecotech plan to invest money earned from Fairtrade sales in establishing a centre for agricultural training where they can learn about efficient farming and cultivation of other crops, as well as how best to produce natural fertilizers and pesticides.
Traceability is important
All the Fairtrade certified cotton in Dressmann’s garments can be physically traced all the way back to the farmers’ cooperative. “Dressmann has committed to ensure that all the cotton we use by 2025 should come from sustainable sources, and Fairtrade is our preferred tool within this context. Fairtrade helps us increase our sustainability not only at the factory floor level, but also for the farmers who grow our cotton, “says Chessa Nilsen.