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01-12-2005
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"Buying" from sweatshops
Recently in class we've been discussing the "dark side" of the fashion industry, the use of sweatshops included. As a buyer, your job is to get the best quality at the cheapest price right? My question is, how do you as a buyer know the working conditions put forth by the contractors you're purchasing from? Hmm, i hope my question makes sense. I'm interested in becoming a buyer, so I'm just trying to get as much real information as possible. Does anyone have any experiences with this?

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01-12-2005
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you can't buy things which are cheapest and best quality at same time, I think


Last edited by Beny; 01-12-2005 at 08:37 PM.
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01-12-2005
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That's very interesting topic.

In China, the biggest OEM bases in the world. You can see what the sweatshops really are. Some famous brands are "snatch" the workers creatvie values. All the buyers here demanding lower and lower price, so, workers earn fewer and fewer.

I think the malignant competition make that situation. I hate doing that, so I can't get big cases right now.

But, as what I said " you can not buy cheapest things which is the best quality". You'll find: although you can put very big case at a very low price level, you can not control " the quality, the lead time and a lot of things in producing.' That will debase your company's class. (but a lot of buyers in China now seem don't care about that. ) And those factories will lose the ability in producing new products and high quality products. That terrible incoming level can't keep enough specialized worker in the sweatshops, so you'll find, your cases are always produced by the fresh people.


Last edited by Beny; 01-12-2005 at 08:53 PM.
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02-12-2005
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Yeah but in China they will work for $0.50 an hour because they can't get anymore than that. Besides as far as china goes everyone theoretically gets the same salary.

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02-12-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdrumstik
Yeah but in China they will work for $0.50 an hour because they can't get anymore than that. Besides as far as china goes everyone theoretically gets the same salary.
what?? can you elaborate on that?

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02-12-2005
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greetings from - the reality is, if theres big money involved, all morals go out the window. often buys will visit the factory or in this case sweatshop to see how the quality control is.

for high end items often a second quality check is done when they ship out and once again in the boutique. e.g. gucci boutiques/retailers/end seller are supposed to check their shipments and destroys any items with flaws.

it is possible to get high quality for a cheap price. you show workers how to make it with quality and they will do it. when your $10 would usually mean 1 hour of work on a bag, now for $10 you can get 7 hours worth of work done on a single item. thats why they're called sweatshops aren't they? unless you are paying them to still spend 1 hour on a bag and get 7 bags per $10 dollars, plus a bad work environment, then you would most likely be compromising quality.

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02-12-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdrumstik
Yeah but in China they will work for $0.50 an hour because they can't get anymore than that. Besides as far as china goes everyone theoretically gets the same salary.
Sorry, I think you know nothing about China at all. I can tell you my mother's income is more than 500,000RMB/year, and this is just a middle class level income, in China. A lot of my friends drive very good cars: Benz, BMW and Ferrari``````I am so supprise when I read these words~~~ I mean`` who told you that?

BTW:8.06RMB = 1USD

None thinks his income is tooooo high~~~ That's the same in the US. If the factory give the workers very low payments~~~ What will American workers do? Chinese workers will do the same thing~~~! And I think that's the same in Tailand and Vietnam. You should pay them at a "reasonable" level!

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02-12-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinky*
greetings from - the reality is, if theres big money involved, all morals go out the window. often buys will visit the factory or in this case sweatshop to see how the quality control is.

for high end items often a second quality check is done when they ship out and once again in the boutique. e.g. gucci boutiques/retailers/end seller are supposed to check their shipments and destroys any items with flaws.

it is possible to get high quality for a cheap price. you show workers how to make it with quality and they will do it. when your $10 would usually mean 1 hour of work on a bag, now for $10 you can get 7 hours worth of work done on a single item. thats why they're called sweatshops aren't they? unless you are paying them to still spend 1 hour on a bag and get 7 bags per $10 dollars, plus a bad work environment, then you would most likely be compromising quality.
Yes Pinky* you can teach them
But please remember some points:
1. The level of employees depends on how much you pay. That's difficult for you to teach bad employees. Good employees need to be paid more money. You have no time to teach a fresh when you are working for your case~~~ Don't forget the lead time~~ and your timetable~~! You will find time is always not enough~!

What's more, I never never never seen Gucci or Levis's buyers stay in the factories, teach them "how to work". You do not have so much time, cause you have to deal with many many cases at the same time! and those factories are in different places~!

What's more, you can't be a Mr "know all"! There is still a lot new things you don't know in this industry! You can't teach anyone~~~ My workmate has 15 years in knitting~~~ but he said " I'm still a learner in this".

The factory does not work for one case, one company. They often make producing plans in the very beginning, I mean: they can only give this case several weeks, then, work for another. Yes, of course, you can get compensations if they didn't finish the contracts, but, can you imagine " there will be no things in your shops"?~~

2. if your workers hate working~~~ you'll have problems, if they themselves don't work happily, what can you do?None likes working in a bad envoirment and low income level, "make your people happy working" can supply you good products. And that cost you money!

3. In fact, you have a lot of methods to reduce your costs, "pay fewer" is only one method, and I think that maybe really a stupid one. What about cost control and other ways?

4. the factories are not stupid guys``` if you pay a little little money~~~ they will not accept your orders at all. What about if someone accept your "SUPPER LOW" price?~~~~~ I think the one who can't sleep at all will be~~~ you.They will reduce the costs in materials and other things, you can not control that at all.


Last edited by Beny; 02-12-2005 at 09:56 AM.
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02-12-2005
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So, Pinky, do you understand me?

I think the buyers' job is not "get the best quality at the cheapest price", their job is "Make the products price reach the target price, control the quality and quantity, then get the prodcts to be transported into your warehouse in time and correctly." you should find out your balance point yourself.

Your question:" how do you as a buyer know the working conditions put forth by the contractors you're purchasing from??"
First, you should have a very good contractor whom you can depend on. He / she should be a very very honesty person. He/she should know the crafts very well, and should be the one who can control the situation. He may not supply you the best price, but can work very good. That's the most important thing. And that usually is a crucial point.


Last edited by Beny; 02-12-2005 at 10:26 AM.
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02-12-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinky*
greetings from - the reality is, if theres big money involved, all morals go out the window. often buys will visit the factory or in this case sweatshop to see how the quality control is.
so then, they are somewhat held responsible, if a company finds out their buyer has been purchasing from a sweatshop, i'm assuming they'll get in trouble? or are they more likely to look the other way

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02-12-2005
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Yeah Beny, totally get your point. of course its better to have a product made by someone who is an expert in their craft, I think Valextra is a very good example of this. But their costs are insanely high, each elderly craftsman will spend almost a year handcrafting one suitcase and each gets his own team of aides to run errands as well. but for the profit cows like gucci or LVMH group who market to the masses this will not do. like i said, when money is involved, people look the other way - even if you can't sleep at night. They're all loaded enough to be distracted from whatever moral issue that results in their comfort and pleasure. and esp for logo labels like these, their quality no longer matters as long as its stamped with their name.

greetings from - sometimes its the company itself that decides to use sweatshops. DKNY had been operating sweatshop conditions right in the US with no union for workers and refused pay for overtime. Its illegal to run a sweatshop in the US but laws can't regulate products that were created from cruel conditions, imported from other countries. bc if that were the case, nike wouldn't be what it is now and furs would've already been banned - and thats with all the crazy PETA activists on their backs.


Last edited by Pinky*; 02-12-2005 at 11:07 AM.
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03-12-2005
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Yes, Pinky, so, that's what I said, you should get the "balance point" .
Compare with the costs and gains, find out the best plan for you.

If you are selling arts, that cost maybe acceptable. If you are selling vast products, you should think about other details, you should give your orders to the factory which can produce that quickly, cost fewer, and meet your quality demands.

There are a lot of factories in the world, doing very well in this industry. But they are not sweatshops. They do not accept "BAD contracts".

Right now, we are talking about the "sweatshop", I'm trying to tell you that point: Sweatshops are not the good choice, they accept very "bad" contracts, they also bring troubles to your company. They are not the best choices.

I can tell you one story really happened: One famous Italian company put their case in China, their contractor give the cases to the SWEATSHOPS. Then, there was 0 product for the Italian company's new season exhibit. They lost more than 3M USD products, and their "figure lost" is can not be accounted out. Nowdays, almost all companies used to visit the factory before they give orders, because they don't want put a case to the "sweatshops",but you cannot stop your contractors put the cases to the sweatshops when you're not there.

I'm practising English, if I have mistakes, please tell me, that'll help me correct those. Thanx.

Your contractors can't give the cases to the "good factories" if you just wanna looking for cheapest price, and of course, they will not tell you "Pinky! We are producing your goods in the sweatshops~!"

If you know the industry very well, you can test your contractor and factories by some very very simple questions. But, no one is the "Mr Know all", So, get a hoesty good person work with you.

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03-12-2005
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Yes, Pinky, so, that's what I said, you should get the "balance point" .
Compare with the costs and gains, find out the best plan for you.

If you are selling arts, that cost maybe acceptable. If you are selling vast products, you should think about other details, you should give your orders to the factory which can produce that quickly, cost fewer, and meet your quality demands.

There are a lot of factories in the world, doing very well in this industry. But they are not sweatshops. They do not accept "BAD contracts".

Right now, we are talking about the "sweatshop", I'm trying to tell you that point: Sweatshops are not the good choice, they accept very "bad" contracts, they also bring troubles to your company. They are not the best choices.

I can tell you one story really happened: One famous Italian company put their case in China, their contractor give the cases to the SWEATSHOPS. Then, there was 0 product for the Italian company's new season exhibit. They lost more than 3M USD products, and their "figure lost" is can not be accounted out. Nowdays, almost all companies used to visit the factory before they give orders, because they don't want put a case to the "sweatshops",but you cannot stop your contractors put the cases to the sweatshops when you're not there.

I'm practising English, if I have mistakes, please tell me, that'll help me correct those. Thanx.

Your contractors can't give the cases to the "good factories" if you just wanna looking for cheapest price, and of course, they will not tell you "Pinky! We are producing your goods in the sweatshops~!"

If you know the industry very well, you can test your contractor and factories by some very very simple questions. But, no one is the "Mr Know all", So, get a hoesty good person work with you.

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03-12-2005
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Don't forget that not every cheap factory is a sweatshop. And also don't forget that the quality coming out of Chinese factories is now on par with most european ones. As someone pointed out in another thread buying from a Chinese factory nowadays is controversial because you are taking work away from your own country. A sweatshop is quite different, it is full of people working for what is not considered an average wage in their area and working extremely long hours that again are not average for their area.

Don't assume that because it is made in a country poorer than yours or that because the employees are being paid $1/hr US that it is a sweatshop. In many countries it only costs $50US/mo to live so those people actually have a really good job. (and Beny yes I know that most Chinese workers make much more than that)

But back to your original question. As a buyer you are not buying the best quality for the cheapest price unless you work at Walmart or whatnot. You are buying the brands that your customers want. Generally you already know because these brands have existed prior and if you are buying for a large company making a large order on a brand new brand if there are any questions you would probably visit the factory to inspect the quality of the garment and make sure that your company won't have any bad press if it turns out they manufacture in a sweatshop.

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