Firstly it's important to point out that anyone can put "Fair Trade" (2 words) on something and it means bugger all.
You’ve probably heard of green washing, where a company claims they or a product are enviromentally-friendly when really they aren't any more than the anyone else. Calling a product Fair Trade when it’s not audited by the Fairtrade Association (FTA) is Fairtrade Washing – it’s misleading.
"Fairtrade" (one word) means an independent auditing body has guaranteed that the entire supply chain is sustainable, and best practice for decent working conditions and pay standards are adherred to.
Take Earthlings, their Waiheke Island based childrens clothing range, is Fairtrade. The FTA audits their supply chain from the cotton field to the end product. Companies like Earthlings, that are comitted to this process, pay 2% quarterly to Fairtrade and only after a completed audit do they have the right to use the Fairtrade logo.
What about supporting NZ Made?
Of course we should buy NZ made where we can. The thing people forget is that cotton is not grown in NZ – the majority is grown in the Third World and is sent here as yarn to be made into garments. It's in the cotton fields where the worst injustices are faced and that is why it's important to look for and purchase Fairtrade when you can.