First clothing range made with Fairtrade cotton to be launched by Puma in Due South stores
Mar 26th 2012, 10:25
The 22nd of March 2012 marks a momentous milestone for fashion and FAIRTRADE in South Africa as PUMA launched its first clothing range made with Fairtrade cotton. The PUMA Wilderness Collection is available in all Due South stores across the country. It is inspired by the landscape and climate of Africa, and is made in Africa using FAIRTRADE cotton.
“The PUMA Wilderness collection brings us yet another step closer to our goal of developing more sustainable and socially responsible lines, and in turn furthering PUMA’s mission to become the most desirable and sustainable Sport-lifestyle company,” said Franz Koch, CEO of PUMA.
At the heart of this operation is the desire to offer South Africans the possibility to buy clothes that are sustainable, made locally, and inspired by the imagery and beauty of Africa. “FAIRTRADE clothing goes beyond marketing good-looking, high quality apparel.” comments Boudewijn Goossens, executive director of Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA), “The small FAIRTRADE label on the trousers or t-shirts assures consumers that the cotton was produced by FAIRTRADE accredited small-scale farming co-operatives, according to strict social and environmental standards and that the farmers have received a fair deal”.
Heavily distorted by massive subsidies in the largest producing countries, the cotton market is a tricky one for small-scale producers living in the South. Low prices, lack of environmental regulations and weak labour standards have pushed millions of African and Asian cotton farmers to the edge of poverty. Many West African countries, where cotton is mainly grown on small-scale farms, heavily depend on cotton production and export – but the farmers aren’t reaping the benefits they deserve.
FAIRTRADE certified cotton means that producers not only receive an agreed minimum price that covers their cost of sustainable production, but also a Fairtrade Premium of €50 for every ton of cotton they sell. They can then spend this additional premium in social, environmental and economic projects – such as investing in schooling, health and production inputs.
“When we changed for Fairtrade, we have changed our conditions of living, we are working for our own dignity while improving our livelihoods”, comments Jonas Kam, member of the environmental committee at CNPC/OPCC cotton cooperative in Cameroon, home of over 32,000 cotton farmers and supplier of Fairtrade cotton to PUMA. He continues, “Building a health centre by ourselves was something never seen before! Regarding the environment, in the past we were used to using empty pesticides jugs to store water, but then we have been warned that this was contaminating the water. Fairtrade Standards have made us aware. […] Little by little, things are changing for the better and the whole village environmental awareness is rising.”
Apart from better social and environmental conditions, CNPC/OPCC farmers have used the stable income guaranteed by Fairtrade to build additional class rooms for community schools, setting up safe drinking water facilities and creating 7 health centres. Investments were also made to improve the quality of the cotton. “It wasn’t very easy to convince people of their own responsibility for improvements in their cotton quality. With Fairtrade it is easier now to motivate workers” says Nathan Bello from Sodecoton, the cotton exporter.
The range is comprised of woven shirts, cargo shorts and pants, graphic tees, wilderness boots, a backpack and more. It is currently available to South Africans in all Due South stores from March 2012 and will retail in 16 different countries, as well as online on www.puma.com
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