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Clothes for a Change:
Leaders of the Apparel Industry

Clothes for a Change

Disclaimer: Due to the prevalence of sub-standard labor conditions and subcontracting practices in the global South, we cannot say with complete certainty that the claims these companies make are 100% accurate. However, the companies listed below represent the leaders in the apparel industry due to their undying focus on manufacturing a quality product made under the most stringent labor and environmental regulations. To nominate a leader of the apparel industry using fair labor practices and eco-friendly fibers, please call 218-226-4164 with background and contact info.

Fair Made with 100% Organic Cotton!

Maggie's Organics

306 W. Cross St.
Ypsilanti, Mich; 48197
(800) 609-8593

Maggie's Organics is one of the few companies in the apparel industry that offer 100% organic clothing and have a direct relationship with their manufacturers. They have created a very unique commitment to a woman's sewing cooperative in Nicaragua to ensure fair labor standards are met. By contracting the sewing of their garments to the Co-op, Maggie's has made it possible for Maquilador Mujeres to create community sustainability in a highly impoverished area of Nicaragua. This partnership allows the women of Maquilador Mujeres to take control of their own lives, set up a trust fund to support the development of other businesses in their community, and provide a stable, livable wage. Maggie's Organics has also partnered with T.S. Designs to use Rehance technology in the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) free, screen-printing of their shirts. Nearly every printed t-shirt made today involves the application of plastisol ink, which contains PVC. However, the production of PVC creates toxic manufacturing byproducts that are known to cause severe health problems such as cancer, liver and kidney failure and birth defects (among others). Through these two pioneering partnerships and their commitment to using only 100% organic cotton, Maggie's Organics is taking environmental stewardship and social responsibility to a new level.

Corporate and Group Sales
130 W. Broadway Vancouver, BC, Canada
V5Y 1P3
888-847-0770 (Toll free within North America)

Mountain Equipment Co-op

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a retail consumer cooperative operating as a non-profit organization providing outdoor oriented apparel items made from 100% organic cotton as well as other fabrics. Currently they operate an internal auditing process to evaluate current and potential suppliers. Entitled the Supplier Team Evaluation Process (STEP), the audit is comprised of about 200 questions and MEC employees go to each factory and investigate standards that include employee health and safety, employment practices, legal compliance, and environmental issues. In 2000, MEC audited 91% or 31 of their factories. In 2002 they started to work with the independent monitoring organization, Verite, to monitor 4 of their factories in China. MEC also supports the Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG) in their quest to require all apparel companies to disclose the names and addresses of the subcontractors who manufacture their goods in Canada.

8550 White Fir Street
P.O. Box 32050,
Reno, NV 89533-2050;
(800) 638-6464;


Patagonia has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship within the apparel industry while continuing to work toward fair labor standards. They perform "ethical audits" of every production facility, both domestic and international each year. Criteria investigated at each facility include among others, examination of issues such as wages, hours of work, age of workers. They are one of the few members of the Fair Labor Association, created under the Clinton administration with no clear consequences for member organizations that violate fair labor standards, that are actually working to ensure worker rights and a livable wage for apparel manufacturers. Since 1995, Patagonia has been using organic cotton fibers in 100% of their products. As of March 2001, they were using 700 tons of organic cotton a year, making them the world's largest purchaser of organic cotton at the time. Through their catalogue and store displays, Patagonia also puts their environmental concerns into action, by actively talking about the environmental, social, and health consequences of genetically engineered crops and foods. Patagonia is the maker of Beneficial T's ( ), 100% organic t-shirts, sweaters, and ball caps used by many organizations wanting to promote environmental stewardship.

917 W. Grape St.
San Diego, Ca. 92101
Ph: 619-233-HEMP
Fax: 619-233-1335


Hempy's Ecotechnology Clothing Brand

Founded in 1995, Hempy's has created an "eco-technology series" designed to be the "ultimate blueprint for creating premium clothing with ecologically advanced materials." All clothing is made with a combination of hemp, organic cotton, and recycled fabrics. Also, Hempy's prides itself in producing all products in the US while monitoring factories to ensure fair working conditions. Products include surf trunks, backpacks, hats, wallets, duffle bags, T-shirts, and more.

12926 Hyland Circle
Boca Raton, FL

Under the Canopy

Under the Canopy aims to make a positive impact on the future of the planet, by innovating a product line that utilizes the Earth's resources in an ecofriendly, sustainable manner. They have trademarked a line called, "EcoFashion®", which is made from sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, eco-fleece, and Cottagora (angora rabbit hair and organic cotton combo), in luxurious, high quality, comfortable and fashionable styles. Furthermore, they promote small-scale manufacturers throughout the world who use only natural and organic fibers. To date, Under the Canopy is the largest catalogue based, eco-friendly fashion company in the apparel industry.

475 Gate Five Road
Suite 120
Sausalito, CA 94965
Tel: (415) 332-8081
Fax: (415) 332-8057

Wildlife Works

Wildlife Works is dedicated to ensuring a bright future for wildlife by providing people in places like East Africa with economically sound alternatives to poaching, clear-cutting and over-harvesting of limited natural resources. They've formed a unique for-profit partnership of business, wildlife conservation and community development concerns to help communities in developing areas grow and prosper without destroying precious habitat and the wildlife that call it home. They have low impact production facilities with partnerships with local residents in developing countries. Wildlife Works also funds programs with local landowners to place large tracts of land under conservation protection. Clothing is made from organic cotton, recycled PET fleece, and hemp.

Fair Made with Some Organic Cotton and Other Eco-friendly Fibers:

747 Warehouse St.
Los Angeles CA. 90021

American Apparel

American Apparel, a pioneer in sweatshop free clothing made in the USA, is the largest garment factory in the US with nearly 1000 employees working at one location. Garment workers make above $10/hour on average, while experienced workers can top $15/hour. The company offers excellent benefits unheard of in the apparel industry. Everyone has access to free massages, English and Spanish classes, immigration services, and a mobile health clinic, which visits once a week. Furthermore, health care and dental insurance is provided for all employees and their children. The company also is creating a paid vacation and on-site day care program. On the environmental front, American Apparel has partnered with Environmental Textiles, to recycle all of its cutting and fiber scraps. That amounts to over thirty-thousand pounds a week of cotton cuttings that would otherwise be dumped in landfills. They are currently in the process of developing their first organic line of clothing and aim to become 100% pesticide free in the near future.

P.O. Box 6140
Novato, CA 94948


In addition to making very comfortable sandals and shoes, Birkenstock has gained a reputation as a socially responsible business with environmental practices above and beyond those of most footwear companies. They closely monitor the impact of their production practices on effect the environment, and use renewable resources such as cork and jute whenever possible. The family owned company has very strict recycling procedures, has an organic garden available for staff, and operates in energy saving facilities. They also pay staff up to 48 hours a year to volunteer in their local communities and uses water-based glues not harmful to workers.

83 State Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Ph: 646-221-6363


coolnotcruel, Inc.

Coolnotcruel is one of a few clothing companies around that caters to the fashion conscious and socially and environmentally conscious consumers. They use 100% organic cotton, alpaca wool (eco-friendly alternative to conventional wool), and hemp. All alpaca wool products are handcrafted by a group of Amarya indigenous women in Bolivia. Hemp and organic cotton products are made under closely monitored conditions in New York City.

Ethix Ventures Inc.
9 Main Street
Suite 3c
Sutton, MA 01590-1660
Tel: 877-709-3845

Ethix Merch

The source for ethical promotional products, Ethix Merch, supports good factories making organic, recycled, union-made, living wage, local, and fair trade items. Ethix Merch is also the only source for non-collegiate bookstore groups to purchase the new union made, living wage Alta Gracia brand of T-shirts. Whenever possible they encourage purchasing shirts, hats, bags, stickers, lanyards, and water bottles that are environmentally-better as well as union made. Plus, they have water-based ink printing processes and union embroidery for custom embellishing their products. Ethix Merch has a long history in the sweatfree movement, working hard to support workers at good union factories so that they will see a better future.

200 Domain Drive
Stratham, NH 03885
Phone: (603) 772-9500


Timberland, primarily known for outdoor walking and hiking shoes, also offer a wide variety of clothing products. In spring 2002 they released their first line of 100% organic products and aim to greatly increase their organic cotton line over the next 7 seasons. They have carefully designed a code of conduct used internally to prevent or correct social and environmental abuses. They also work closely with Verite, an independent, non-profit social auditing and research organization, dedicated to ensuring that people worldwide work under safe, fair, and legal working conditions. If Verite auditors identify exploitation of workers, they develop concrete steps to correct it through trainings, education programs, and remediation programs.

Fair Made without Organic Cotton:

36 Border Street W.
Newton, Ma. 02465

No Sweat Apparel
(Division of Bienestar International Inc.)

No Sweat Apparel is a new organization based in Massachusetts. They are working with independent trade unions, including the US based UNITE, wherever they source their apparel. They believe that the appropriate response to globalization is a globalized and organized labor force. No info on organic cotton yet available.

The Organic Consumers Association also has
a complete list of organizations currently producing organic cotton products
To nominate a leader of the apparel industry using fair labor practices and eco-friendly fibers, please send background and contact info to

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