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What Are the Different Types of Fair Trade Shirts?

Impoverished people must benefit from the sale of fair trade shirts.
Fair trade shirts come in a variety of sizes, colors, and cuts.
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  • Written By: R. Stamm
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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Fair trade shirts come in a variety of fabrics and are available to all ages, sexes, and sizes. The styles of the shirts range from ultra casual to dressy, and the category even includes uniforms. Practically any style of shirt found on the racks of any major retailer may be purchased from a fair trade store. Most of the clothing on the fair trade market is available online or in stores dedicated to selling fair trade clothing. The term fair trade means that shirts are manufactured in a manner that is beneficial to those who make the shirts and the environment.

Manufacturers must meet certain criteria to classify their shirts as fair trade. Most importantly, the cost of fair trade shirts must benefit impoverished persons in third-world countries. Those following fair trade principles believe workers in factories must earn a living wage and work in facilities that are safe and sanitary. The manufacturing process must be done in a manner that is sustainable to the environment and the local culture. The primary focus of the fair trade industry is to end poverty and protect the environment worldwide.

Some of the fabrics used in the construction of fair trade shirts include cotton, hemp, and other natural fibers. Fabrics are produced organically and reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals in the environment. Dipping cotton and hemp fibers in hot water and machine-combing for softness produces a stronger, longer-wearing garment with better color retention than those made with chemical processing.

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Knit, a stretchy fabric that drapes over the body, is one of the most widely-used in the manufacture of fair trade shirts. T-shirts are a popular item of clothing for this material and are available for children, women and men. T-shirts come in plain, colorful styles or are screen-printed with catch phrases, company and school logos, or the fair trade logo. An individual can find polo shirts and tank tops in knitted fabric as well. Some clothing distributors offer tunic style shirts for women and girls.

Woven fabrics, or fabrics that do not stretch, comprise the broadest category of fair trade shirts and are available in several fibers. Men can purchase dress shirts for under their suits and more casual, button collar shirts. They are also available in a sturdy denim, work-style shirt. Women can find silk shells and button-front shirts in a variety of woven fabrics and slip-on shirts that are casual or dressy. There are even companies that make uniform shirts for schools and corporations.

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