The True Cost

The True Cost

As a new film, True Cost, about the human and environmental costs created by the fashion industry is released, the Fairtrade Foundation warns that we need to change the way we view fashion and reconnect with all the many people who work to bring us our clothes, starting with the cotton farmers. They are the ones who pay the real price.


Over 60 per cent of the world’s cotton is produced by an estimated 100 million smallholder farmers. Of these, 90% are in developing countries and grow cotton on less than five hectares of land and are some of the poorest in the world. Up to 300 million people work in the cotton sector when family labour, farm labour and workers in ancillary services such as transportation, ginning, baling and storage are taken into account.


For farmers, the challenges range from the impact of poor prices for seed cotton, climate change, through to competition from highly subsidised producers in the US and china and poor terms of trade.


Subindu Garkhel, Cotton Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It’s tragic that one of the unseen impacts of fashion today is that cotton is failing to provide a living income for millions of small-scale farmers. Fashion for a bargain – that’s what everyone wants. But a bargain comes at a price. The fact that prices continue to fall in the UK should be a wake-up call for shoppers: farmers and workers are paying the price of our high street bargains. Unless consumers and business are prepared to pay the true cost of our clothes, poverty will continue.”


Safia Minney, CEO of Fair Trade fashion label People Tree, who features in True Cost says: “I hope True Cost inspires and motivates people to care about each other and our precious earth. I believe the secrets of sustainability and well-being in society lie with the farmers and workers – with the people – not in the ivory towers of big corporations and the establishment who are dangerously out of touch. Good business and economic practice can pull people out of poverty and innovate and generate new environmental production methods and supply chains. Fairtrade and sustainable fashion can empower the poor, bring about social and environmental justice and transform our economy and well-being in society. Fast fashion as we know it must stop!”


Fairtrade cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Through tools like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium and stronger, more democratic organisations, Fairtrade has sought to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.


In addition to a limited theatrical release worldwide on 29 May, True Cost will be available to purchase on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, VHX), DVD and Blu Ray. For more information, please visit True Cost Movie.

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For more information about Fairtrade cotton, visit You can download our press pack here . For interviews or images please contact Martine Parry, Media & PR Manager on or 020 7440 7695/ 07886 301486


Notes to Editors

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.5 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 74 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2014, at a level of 78%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 exceeded £1.7 billion, a 12% increase on sales of £1.53 billion in 2012.

People Tree is the pioneer of Fair Trade and sustainable fashion. People Tree actively supports 4000 farmers and artisans through 50 Fair Trade producer groups, in 6 developing countries.

Almost half of People Tree’s organic cotton carries the FAIRTRADE Mark. This guarantees small scale cotton farmers in developing countries receive a fair and stable price and an additional premium which gives them the opportunity to develop their communities.

They are the first international clothing company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation Fair Trade product label. This guarantees People Tree’s dedication and compliance to the Principles of Fair Trade, covering fair wages, working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice, gender equality and setting standards for conventional fashion companies to improve their supply chains.

Ten years ago People Tree launched the first clothing range to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard certified by the Soil Association in the so called developing world.

People Tree products are made to the highest Fair Trade and environmental standards from start to finish and consistently prove that it is possible to wear stylish, exciting and affordable fashion, at the same time as respecting people and planet.