As an American it offends me when the clothing manufacturers complain that “nice” clothing must be made in sweat shops of poverty stricken countries like Bangladesh because the profit margin they seek demands it – it is cheaper to do it there. They also say that we Americans demand such clothing. Who in their right mind would want to support such conditions? Never once have I wished for a something-or-other originating from a Bangladesh factory. I read labels, of course, and if I ever saw a label on an article of clothing with the slightest reference that it was made there I would not purchase it. But it’s hard to tell. You can GOOGLE Bangladesh clothing and find endless lists of specific articles of clothing made there, and elsewhere under similar conditions, but barely any reference to the BRAND names that are sewn into those garments. And where were the buttons made? The zippers? The rivets?
Lauren Laverne has written a timely article online in THE GUARDIAN – see link below.
Here is a brief excerpt of what she says:
“This week’s column, therefore, is a plea to fashion producers for traceability of their supply chain, and a mention for brands and services which supply those things to consumers. Frustratingly, at the top end of the market that kind of accountability is easier to come by, but there’s no reason the high street should be exempt from offering similar guarantees. As Lucy Siegle noted in this newspaper, big brands distancing themselves from the factories in which their goods are produced is part of their business model. It helps safeguard their profit margin. If consumers demand they become accountable in great enough numbers, they will.”
After doing some digging around I was able to find some specific brand names associated with these rundown and dangerous Bangladesh factories. I was disgusted and surprised but will not name names here in my blog…..no lawsuits please. It’s information that is findable. Every once in a while an American manufacturer is exposed as being just one of the many guilty of exploiting poverty stricken people in the most disgusting of workplace conditions or is using child labor. Of course much of the responsibility is with the owners of the actual buildings in these countries and the lack of building codes enforcement, and so as Americans the only valid means of registering our alarm and disapproval is through the money chain. It starts with identifying the owners of the major brand name clothing companies who are the violators and then it trickles directly down to you and me – we are the ones who determine their financial success. We can make or break them, or make such a large dent in their business that it gets their attention, but it takes a big organized village to do that.
The issue extends to fabrics used in home furnishings and even art. Indonesian fabrics, as just one example, are gorgeous, using silk threads in an intricate tapestry-like weave, incorporating metallic threads and brilliant colors which lend to some of them a Renaissance brocade quality. I have used them in fabric collage with great success.
I would just like to have the right to make a choice that can be made intelligently, based upon information and truth in labeling. While shopping, I would prefer to know where the product originates. Not only the country but the factory! That seems quite simple, actually. I don’t want to be one of the uninformed Americans who perpetuates the problem. I would never consciously choose clothing over people. We are all connected in this world, on this big blue planet, and what happens around the globe happens also to me.