Patagonia’s Bikinis and Board Shorts Hit the Fair Trade Trail

Patagonia, the California outdoor-apparel company known as one of the first U.S. clothing companies to embrace the environment, is taking bikini and boardshorts production to a new level.

Starting with its Spring collections, the Ventura, Calif.–based venture is making all 48 styles of its bikinis and men’s, women’s and children’s boardshorts in Fair Trade Certified factories, which is part of Patagonia’s effort to support workers, elevate communities and do work in an equitable way.

“For a long time now, there’s been too little transparency in the garment industry. When we buy clothing, we’re often oblivious to the reality of how it was made—not to mention the true human and ecological costs of the manufacturing process,” said Dave Rastovich, global surf activist at Patagonia. “The factories we rely on aren’t just full of machines; they’re also full of people with families, histories and futures who have been overlooked by the industry for far too long. Fair Trade extends a sense of value, acknowledgment and respect to members of the human family who are often pushed to the margins.”

Fair Trade Certified factories are required to adhere to Fair Trade USA’s strict standards for safe working conditions and environmental responsibility. Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit that promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers and protects the environment.

For every product made at a Fair Trade Certified factory, Patagonia is paying a premium so that workers can elevate their living standards. Premiums from Patagonia purchases have been used to fund child-care programs and vouchers for medicine and household goods. At a factory in Los Angeles, workers voted for a dividend that equaled up to a week’s pay.

In addition, Patagonia’s surf and swim products incorporate recycled nylon or recycled polyester fabrics. The women’s swimsuits and bikinis are printed using a laser process that minimizes fabric scraps and waste.