Ethical Fashion, Ethical Product Reviews, Fair Trade & Ethically Made

Target’s Fair Trade Denim: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Target’s Fair Trade Denim: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

I was PUMPED when Target released its first fair trade denim several weeks ago. When a major retailer like Target begins offering fair trade clothing options, it makes fair trade accessible to so many more people!

I decided to investigate Target’s fair trade denim further. How do you find it? What is the quality like? Does it live up to the initial hype?

I went to several different Target locations to scope out their fair trade denim options and tried on the pants. Here are my honest thoughts!

What is Fair Trade?

A product that is Fair Trade Certified has met certain standards for treating workers well and sourcing materials responsibly. Read more here about why I think fair trade is important.

Where Exactly Can You Find the Fair Trade Denim?

Not all of Target’s denim offerings are fair trade. Their fair trade line is offered under the label Universal Threads in the women’s clothing section (sorry, men and children–no fair trade for you). However, as I quickly discovered, only a small portion of the Universal Threads jeans are actually fair trade.

I visited three different Target locations to check out their fair trade denim selection (in case you’re curious: the White Oak, North Hills, and Cary Crossroads locations, all located in the Triangle area of NC). Upon entering the women’s clothing section, it was easy to spot the fair trade denim promotional materials. All three stores had a table set up on one of the main store aisles with a sign that read “Introducing Fair Trade denim.” The sign further explained to look for the fair trade seal on denim tags. Underneath and around the sign were piles of jeans.

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern
Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern

One would think the jeans on the table with the fair trade denim sign would be fair trade. But one would be wrong! In two of the three Target locations I visited, none of the jeans on the “fair trade denim” table actually had the fair trade seal. I proceeded to scour the entire women’s clothing department, only to find one pair of fair trade jeans at each of the stores, located on the back wall about as far as you could get from the fair trade sign.

The third store I visited did actually have two styles of fair trade jeans on the fair trade table, but not all of the jeans on the table were fair trade.

Several of my friends also investigated their local Target stores and found similar mixed results: Sometimes there are fair trade jeans located next to the fair trade denim sign, sometimes there aren’t. In every case, there were always at least some pairs of non-fair trade jeans located next to the sign.

Frankly, all of this strikes me as false advertising. If I was walking through a store and saw a sign for fair trade denim right next to several pairs of jeans, I would assume that all of those jeans were fair trade and might make a purchasing decision based on that information. It is incredibly misleading for Target to place the sign next to jeans that aren’t fair trade. And it’s a little odd that the implementation varies from store to store.

Pros and Cons of Target’s Fair Trade Denim

Once I actually located the fair trade denim, I tried it on! Here are my pros and cons. We’ll start with the cons so we can end on a positive note with the pros!

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern


Thin material

These jeans are pretty budget friendly (see pros section below), and the quality reflects that to an extent. If you are used to purchasing high quality or designer denim, you will notice that the material of these jeans is quite a bit thinner. It isn’t see-through thin or anything like that, but definitely on the thin side.

Hard to Find

It’s not easy to find the jeans within the store since they aren’t always located next to the fair trade denim sign. It does require a bit of searching and checking tags for the little fair trade seal (see photo below – the seal is in the upper lefthand corner), which hurts the convenience factor.

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern

If you’re shopping online, finding the fair trade jeans isn’t really an issue….you can just apply the “Fair Trade Certified” filter to see all of the fair trade denim options.

Lack of Variety

Target only offers 10 styles of fair trade denim online, compared to 255 styles of non-fair trade women’s denim. And in store, I was only ever able to find 3 different styles. That isn’t a whole lot of variety or choice.


Here are all of the pros of Target’s fair trade denim line!


All three pairs of jeans I tried on were comfortable, which frankly is a must when it comes to a pair of jeans. Each pair had some stretch, and two of them were soft to the point of feeling almost like jeggings.

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern


All three pairs of jeans I tried on had a flattering fit. They were all skinnies and ranged from mid-rise to high-rise.

My only complaint, if I’m being quite picky, is that the jeans were just a tad looser on me in the calf area than I would like. I have extremely slender calves, so I suspect they would fit most other people perfectly.

The sizing did seem to run a bit large (I sized down one size in two of the pairs), but ultimately it was very easy for me to find a size that fit well. And, Target does offer plus sizes in their fair trade line (praise!).

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review!  |  Fairly Southern


It is very rare to find fair trade clothing offered in a nearby store. Many fair trade clothing companies are accessible to most of us only online (unless you live in NYC or Los Angeles). Being able to go in person to a nearby store and actually try on the pants before buying them is a huge pro in my book. It makes returns so much easier too!


I am honestly shocked that Target is able to offer their fair trade denim at such a low price point. Two of the pairs I tried on were $19.99, and the third pair was $27.99. I don’t think I’ve paid that little for a pair of brand new jeans since the ’90s!

The $19.99 jeans don’t appear to be available online (again, what the heck with the inconsistency, Target), but the prices online range from $27.99-$37.99. This is incredibly affordable for fair trade jeans!

Overall Verdict

Target’s fair trade denim gets a thumbs up from me! Despite my irritation with Target’s misleading advertising practices, I would ultimately purchase their fair trade denim the next time I need a pair of jeans because they are so affordable, convenient, and cute. And ultimately, I do love that Target is making fair trade available to the masses.

Okay friends–what do you think? Have you tried Target’s new line of fair trade denim? Were you even able to find a pair? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

xoxo Laura

Target's new Fair Trade Denim: Does it live up to the hype? Unsponsored review! | Fairly Southern


  1. A really interesting read and also good to see ethical and sustainable choices being more widely available as if we want to secure social change we really need it to be easier for people to make better choices xxx thank you ❤️🙌❤️

  2. Mostly I’ve been sewing and searching and wasting money (actually, it goes to homeless). I’m a size 22 womens and 74 years old…it’s been a 50 year attempt to free my slaves!!!
    I bought 2 jeans from Target in Universal and they turned out to fit well but are made in Vietnam. Now if I knew the factory conditions my conscience wouldn’t bother me, but I have NO way of knowing. For instance, Nicaragua has underpaid but OK conditions and no child labor or slavery. Other places have horrible everything…mothers of families who sew in Cambodia often suffer with awful malnutrition, etc.
    I read a review of the new free trade zone in Haiti by a hostile critic…she freely admitted the pay is beyond abysmal, but the working conditions are clean and comfortable and people can quit and return and have Sunday off. So that’s good to know. It seems to be Eastern Europe and southeast Asia where the worst is going on.
    Anyway, it’s good to meet others who care…been a lonely road. Thank you for reading….Deanna

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