With its Scandi-inspired modern lines and tapered silhouettes, our versatile Mid-Century Furniture Collection has always been a customer favorite. This year, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve made it even better. Our entire Mid-Century collection, from bedroom furniture to dining tables, is now Fair Trade Certified. What does that mean? Safe working conditions and fair labor practices, along with a premium that goes back to workers who can use it to invest in the benefits of their choice, from medical care to transportation.
The process of certifying this factory, located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, took over two years and the close cooperation between workers, factory owners, and the team at west elm to complete. “It wasn’t easy in the beginning,” notes factory owner Jerry Chang. To become certified through Fair Trade USA, a factory must undergo a 12-stage process with 200+ criteria verifying safe working conditions, fair wages, and environmental standards. “Some of the requirements seemed unreasonable to our workers initially,” Jerry continues. Certification necessitates maximum working hours, so a new minimum wage and a close discourse amongst staff was established to eliminate the need for overtime work. Additionally, each certified factory has a worker-elected Fair Trade Committee that acts as an employee representative in meetings to ensure transparency and the best way to disburse premiums. “Now, most of our workers understand why we do this and what they will achieve in the future,” Jerry says. With over 2500 workers, the factory is one of the largest that west elm works with. And now, with Fair Trade Certification, it’s the first facility of its kind in Vietnam. This past May, our photo team traveled to Vietnam to get a first-hand view at the production process. Take a closer look and see how our Mid-Century Collection comes together below!
↑ Jerry Chang, the owner of the Vietnam factory that makes our Fair Trade Certified Mid-Century furniture. Here, Jerry stands with a collection of our Mid-Century Nightstands.
↑ Before it is used to build our Mid-Century furniture, sustainably-sourced solid eucalyptus wood is treated and kiln dried to prevent warping.
↑ Workers feed materials into a machine that automatically cuts the planks to the desired thickness.
↑ Here, a worker feeds more planks into a machine that cuts it down to the desired thickness before being used to make our Mid-Century furniture.
↑ A quality control specialist inspects nightstand legs for any defects before they move on to finishing.
↑ Here, a worker sands down the side of a wooden crib to make it completely smooth before assembly.
↑ Workers trim the acacia wood veneers that cover the eucalyptus base of our Mid-Century furniture. Each piece of furniture is given two layers of veneer for added durability.
↑ Here, the edges of our Mid-Century nightstand are being sanded down using an electric sander to ensure smooth and even finishing.
↑ Workers complete the final stages of assembly for the Mid-Century nightstand before being stained and finished.
↑ Drawer boxes are assembled and waiting to be fitted into nightstands and consoles.
↑ A worker sprays a finish evenly onto the door, shelf, and drawer box of a piece in the finishing line. He checks the color using a standard color panel as a reference.
↑ The Mid-Century media console awaits its finishing touches.
↑ Finished west elm furniture pieces are packaged into boxes and stored in a warehouse awaiting shipment.
↑ Here we see another quality control specialist carefully checking the sanded wood pieces for any defects.
↑ The factory’s worker-elected Fair Trade Committee. The committee represents workers in meetings with factory management and decides how to spend premiums.