Fit and Fair

As of Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Athleta, the fitness apparel division of San Francisco–based Gap Inc. is adding fair trade-certified styles to its collection of activewear.

The company partnered with Fair Trade USA to “enhance its commitment to empowering women by supporting the female-dominated workforce in the manufacturing facilities with which it sources.” Based in Oakland, Calif., Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization that “promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers; protects fragile ecosystems; and builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification.”

The spring collection will include more than 40 fair trade-certified styles, including popular pieces like the “Sculptek Stealth” collection and the “High Neck Chi” tank. More fair-trade styles will be added by the end of the year.

Athleta’s fair trade-certified garments are made in a newly certified factory in Sri Lanka with a workforce of more than 2,100 workers, primarily women. For each fair trade-certified product Athleta sells, factory workers will earn additional money to be used to invest in their community, the company said. These investments can be for anything from childcare and transportation to women's health programs and education.

"Supporting women in their ability to come together to reach their full potential is core to our brand," said Nancy Green, Athleta president, in a statement. "Partnering with Fair Trade USA is an important and natural step in directly enabling the women who create Athleta clothes to positively affect their communities and families."

To receive fair trade certification, goods have to be made in a factory that follows Fair Trade USA’s guidelines on social, environmental and economic standards. Athleta production already follows Gap Inc.'s Vendor Conduct standards, which includes “compliance with applicable laws, environmental standards, labor practices and working conditions to help ensure that factory workers are treated with dignity and respect.”

"Fair Trade allows each of us to live our values through our everyday choices--through a simple purchase," said Paul Rice, president and chief executive officer Fair Trade USA. "When you choose a Fair Trade Certified item from Athleta, you're not just getting an amazing product; you're also helping empower and improve the lives of the women who made it."