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J.Crew and Madewell Launch Fair Trade Certified Denim Collection

J.Crew Group
(Photo: The Fair Trade Certified seal sewn into Madewell jeans. Credit: J.Crew Group)

The J.Crew Group and Fair Trade USA have formed a partnership to introduce a Fair Trade Certified denim collection for men and women. Sold at J.Crew and Madewell stores and on the retailers’ websites, the new clothing ranges from $60 to $128.

The collection includes 18 J.Crew styles and 16 Madewell styles, and represents the company’s commitment to sustainability, according to the international retailer. The company operates 24 J.Crew stores, 127 Madewell stores, 174 factory stores, and online retail sites.

“Through our work with Fair Trade USA, we’re empowering workers and ensuring fair conditions and equal economic opportunities for everyone who touches J.Crew and Madewell products,” said Libby Wadle, president of Madewell.

Fair Trade USA says that each article of Fair Trade Certified clothing works to provide safe working conditions and sustainable livelihoods for factory workers around the world. “The additional money they earn with every sale is used to fund important projects that address major needs,” the nonprofit organization and certifier noted. Other certified clothing brands include Patagonia, prAna, Athleta, and Outerknown.

The J.Crew Group plans to grow their Fair Trade program, the retailer said, making them poised to become one of the biggest apparel participants.

“This monumental initiative from J.Crew and Madewell uplifts thousands of employees involved in apparel production, and also empowers shoppers in the United States to select and wear styles that were created in line with their values,” said Paul Rice, founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “It sets a positive example for the entire industry.”

However, as Refinery29’s Landon Peoples pointed out, J.Crew has struggled with sustainability in the past. He cited Good On You, an app that rates clothing labels on sustainability and ethics, which gave the retailer a “not good enough” rating last August for lacking robust and tangible labor and environmental policies.

Currently the social responsibility section of J.Crew’s website includes details about their code of vendor conduct, monitoring of supplier conditions, materials sourcing, and Fair Factories Clearinghouse membership.

“While it’s relatively simple to communicate our expectations to our suppliers, it is more complicated to verify compliance throughout our supply chain,” the retailer’s site says. “Therefore, we carefully select and rely on independent external firms to conduct both announced and unannounced inspections of manufacturing facilities and to advise our program.”

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