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19-12-2007
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missy-t1's Avatar
 
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Ethical fashion - exploitation of children ... Does it Change How you Shop?
We've all heard it before; children in developing countries being paid next to nothing. But it really hits home when that story affects YOU.

Many of the major high street stores and brands are involved; Topshop, Gap, Nike etc etc

-How do you feel?
-Do you still buy it regardless of the situation?
-Boycott?
-Campaigns...

let me know what you think.
I think its about time that we all take a stance on this and change this for the greater good of the global community.




Sorry if posted in wrong area, didn't know where this was supposed to go.

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Last edited by BetteT; 03-01-2008 at 04:23 PM. Reason: Please see tFS guildines ... no politics.
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19-12-2007
  2
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How do we know what's made by children and what isn't?
The brand can front a picture of a factory of smiling employees in some South Pacific island (adidas has done this) but then you don't really know what goes on in the other facilities. These brands are owned by companies that do a lot of subcontracting and licensing and you can never be sure what is made by kids in slave labour-like conditions or fairly treated workers. Gap came under fire for this recently for their kids line ('made by kids, for kids' is their philosophy it seems) that was licensed to another company in India.
There's really no way of truly knowing who you are supporting or not.

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20-12-2007
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The corporations would stop this if they thought it would have an adverse effect on sales. As fashion boi said, though, it's hard to find out which shops are ok and which aren't. Maybe the world needs some sort of organisation that would track clothes and fabric production the way, for example, Amnesty tracks human rights abuses. There are groups here and there highlighting aspects of these problems but I think we need a central organisation known by and considered credible by most of the population, not just the minority who bother to look for information. A group that would look behind the feel-good promises and the evasive tactics of ad campaigns and publicity statements.

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20-12-2007
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There is the UN Multinational Monitor; but it has a very broad look at corporations around the entire world, and their impacts on society, economy and politics. If they could have a sub-group specifically looking at work conditions & employment, it would be amazing.

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21-12-2007
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A conversation on NPR the other day, hit the nail on the head - there are more laws protecting products, but not enough protecting the people who make the products. This goes beyond child exploitation. But people in general exploitation.

As long as people want cheaper products, the companies will fight to bring down prices but keep profits up. This means that they usually cut costs at base wages. And this is why we have outsourced work to countries that have no ethical work laws.

Because now you not only have to worry about fifty cents a day, add on top of that more than likely being raped or abused? This is why I feel better sometimes that I thrift. I think I'm not creating more need for new things. By no means does it stop it, cause in spite of what I do, this all still continues.

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21-12-2007
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I personally feel that the only way you can buy ethically is by buying more from charity shops (see below). There are certain companies which are extremely unethical. I know for fact that v poor people work for literally no payment (just food) to make Nike products. This is true for sure.

If you want to check the ethical status of a particular company try here

http://www.corporatecritic.org/companies.aspx

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/

I personally try to buy local rather than from far afield, always buy from charity if they sell it, fairtrade is good but some companies exploit it* I also use my Amex (Red) Card to make the purchase so that at least some good comes from it hopefully.

http://www.americanexpress.com/pes/u...te/index.shtml

* The Co-Op double up the donation to The Fair Trade Foundation !! - good on them

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26-12-2007
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Nike also has sub contractors in Vietnam that pay less than what people need to live. It's just plain ugly what's going on.

My girlfriend and me work on our own fashion label here in Bangkok and because we don't want to be involved in such disgusting exploitation of poor people we produce here with our own team of tailors.

I would never outsource the production to China or where ever I couldn't be sure that I don't support this greedy and unsocial practice.

I know about a couple of brands who manufacture here in Thailand and assemble it in Italy. Seriously how can people who own such a brand live like that, knowing that they make a fortune on the back of extremely poor people.

Some people work from their early teens until they get old in such factories. They live close to factories in camps and that's their whole live. I really get angry that this is the common practice for a lot of brands out there.

Then they get their name as sponsors on promotion material of a couple of charity and human rights organizations and its all good for the public again. It seems to be easier to pull of a publicity stunt instead of paying a little bit extra for their products.

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26-12-2007
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yeah, it is so wrong. I think that most people who buy the products would ot willingly buy into exploitation but sadly apathy gets the better of people. That is to say they don't care enough to become educated to make the right choices. Also they don't see the impact of it, it is hidden from us.

This topic makes me sad.

If anyone wishes to help there is always this, but for those who don't wish to ..... so be it.

http://www.maketradefair.com/en/index.htm

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26-12-2007
  9
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Yeah it's hidden because too many people make their money in this way. I visited a couple of "sweatshops" while I was working for a product design company over here and some of them were our clients to plan their brand strategy. Its just crazy. The workers there, mostly from the poor north, have no real social life and just get old doing the same work over and over again every day.

Imagine that... you do nothing except the same thing every day and get old while doing that. Most of them can't read or write so there is also no chance to get promoted.

It would be good if more people would think about which brands they support. But I guess in a time in which probably 80-90% of products come from some sort of sweatshops for mass production its pretty hard to avoid it.

Especially if you consider the huge amount of cover ups. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/23/op...in&oref=slogin

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26-12-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhdinger View Post
.

Especially if you consider the huge amount of cover ups. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/23/op...in&oref=slogin

...and http://www.businessoffashion.net/200...ly-p.html#more

Its so hard to know who's who and what’s what. I just found out that some so-called "Made in America" labels are not actually made here.

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28-12-2007
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From the Wall Street Journal

ON STYLE
By CHRISTINA BINKLEY
Style Showdown: $1,000 Sweater Faces $100 Rival
November 29, 2007


It's one of the abiding mysteries of fashion: Is it really worth paying $1,100 for a white cotton blouse or $750 for one of the turtleneck sweaters we see in high-end stores and magazines?

If the labels fell off, would these basic items still feel like they're worth so much? The question arises more often these days, as stores like Zara and H&M thrive on selling inexpensive fashions that resemble those of high-end designers like Chanel and Dior.

With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, I decided to put a couple of standard sweaters to the test. While I anticipated differences in style and quality, I was unprepared for the political issues that arose from my study of these two sweaters. What started out as a look at fashion choices turned into a lesson on globalization.

For this test, we chose two cashmere sweaters from clothiers with excellent reputations for quality and service, one at each end of the price spectrum. One came from Lands' End and cost $99.50 before tax and shipping. The other, from Italian luxury cashmere maker Brunello Cucinelli, cost $950 before tax and the valet parking fee at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

The sweaters are outwardly similar: long-sleeved black mock turtlenecks, knitted with two-ply yarn, which means each string is made of two strands that have been twisted together. Both sweaters are made of cashmere combed from Mongolian goats, which are said to grow fine, long hairs to survive the tough winters. The long hair leads to less pilling, which is a real sweater killer.

And both garments arrived with deficiencies. My Lands' End sweater felt stiff and glossy. After wearing it twice, I tossed it in the delicate cycle of my washing machine, and it emerged soft and supple.

I chose a style called a "cashmere tee" that is trimmer and more feminine than the company's core big and snuggly cashmeres. New this fall, the mock turtle is cut to layer under a jacket. Despite the fresh styling, it lacks sophistication, and the fabric tends to wrinkle, particularly at the crook of the arm. Still, it's an attractive, basic sweater -- soft, comfy and, hey, the price was right. According to Michele Casper, a spokeswoman for Lands' End, it should last for many years. If not, she noted, I can exchange the item or get a refund. "Everything we sell at Lands' End is guaranteed. Period."

The Cucinelli sweater has a springier weave that drapes gracefully and hasn't wrinkled or bagged at stretch points. It was a little more uniformly soft than the Lands' End fabric. While all Mongolian goat hair is prized, prices vary according to quality, and some Italian manufacturers pride themselves on buying the best grades of cashmere at auction -- one reason for some sweaters' higher prices. The sweater also has subtly stylish details -- such as small buttons at the back of the neck that make it easy to pull the sweater over a hairdo and makeup.

That's a nice feature, but when I got it home, I discovered the sweater had unraveled at the teardrop opening at the nape of the neck. This required a tiresome trip back to Saks, where they repaired the tear, telling me that if it happens again, I should bring it right back. At that price, they can count on it. But Cucinelli should probably incorporate some sort of reinforcement at that pressure point. A spokesman for the designer called the flaw a "fluke" and said Cucinelli has a damage-return rate of just 0.005%.

The standout facets of the Cucinelli sweater are sleeves that taper at the forearm and then flare at the wrist, and layers of silk chiffon that have been hand-sewn at the neck and wrists. My friend Roberta tried it on. "It does feel really nice on my neck," she said, noodling her head around. These style details drew attention as I wore the sweater (the Lands' End sweater garnered no compliments). But people looked stunned if I told them the price.

So there were style differences between the luxurious designer sweater and its counterpart, however solidly made. Another sort of distinction emerged as I learned how each sweater was manufactured. The goat hairs took very different paths after being bundled into bales and taken to auction in Mongolia.

The label of the Lands' End sweater says "Made in China." Lands' End gave me an extensive primer on its Mongolian yarns. But it turned out that the company isn't involved in that part of the process. It purchases the finished sweaters from a factory in China -- and it's the factory that buys cashmere at auction. Ms. Casper said the Chinese factory spins, cards, combs, and dyes the yarn and weaves it into garments according to Lands' End's specifications. Lands' End, she said, tests the results and requires the factory to meet "all compliances" from Sears Holding Corp., which owns Lands' End. She declined to elaborate or to divulge the name of the factory or even the region of China where it's located. She did say: "The cashmere factories are very clean and feature all state-of-the art, updated equipment. The employees feel honored to be employed there."

I was troubled by the company's reticence about the factory that made my sweater. This came against a backdrop of news stories out of China's industrial sector that included recalls of toys, toothpaste and other consumer products. Many people have seen film and photos of Chinese factory workers living in sparse dormitories far from home and working long hours. Concerns about Chinese labor and manufacturing standards have led to the recent increase in "Made in the USA" labels on products made here.

All this contrasts sharply with Brunello Cucinelli, a company founded in 1978 by 54-year-old designer Brunello Cucinelli. Both the Saks saleswoman and Massimo Caronna, Cucinelli's U.S. spokesman and owner of Italian fashion distributor IMC Group, eagerly elaborated on the manufacturing. Mr. Caronna even invited me to visit the factory where my sweater was made, in the tiny Italian village of Solomeo in Umbria, though I didn't make the trip.

According to him, the goat hairs in my sweater traveled in bales from Mongolia to one of several factories in Italy where it was made into yarn. Cucinelli buys about 70% of its yarn from the Italian luxury thread purveyor Cariaggi.

The yarn was then shipped to the Cucinelli factory, which is in a 17th-century castle. Each of its 1,500 employees has a key, says Mr. Caronna. They work each day from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., breaking for a 90-minute lunch. Many go home for lunch, but Mr. Caronna says that those who stay are served a free three-course meal cooked up by three local women who shop for fresh groceries every morning. Employees return to work from 2:30 until 6 p.m. and then head home.

Mr. Cucinelli wanted to improve on the conditions he saw his father endure as a farm laborer, Mr. Caronna says. The designer has donated some company profits to improvements in Solomeo, such as restoring the town square, building a local school and, most recently, constructing a town theater. The company, which competes with Loro Piana and also owns the Gunex and Riva Monti fashion lines, expects revenue of $163 million in 2007, Mr. Caronna said.

The Italian manufacturing process also explains a little more about the cost of my $950 sweater. Hand work allows sophisticated design details, like the chiffon, that would be impossible in a garment made entirely by machine. And 25% of the factory employees are devoted to quality control. Before leaving the factory, every item is washed by hand -- one reason the Cucinelli sweater arrived softer than the Lands' End.

Lands' End won't tell us details such as whether its Chinese factory has paid for local schools or serves its workers free three-course meals. But it's safe to say that the Cucinelli is the superior sweater when it comes to style, quality and global social awareness.

Whether it's worth nearly 10 times the price, though, is a matter for you and your wallet.


Last edited by allegra; 28-12-2007 at 09:35 AM.
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