Shopping and Ethics

5.14.2013


As someone who loves to shop, the events in the garment district of Bangladesh, including the recent building collapse where over 1,000 people died, is hard to ignore. It's so heartbreaking to know that such an immense loss of life was not just highly preventable, but that unsafe working conditions in these factories have grown to become the "norm."

One does not have to be an analyst to know that for any business, the bottom line is about profit, and there is nothing wrong with that. Who goes into business to go broke? Cheap labor abroad no doubt leads to a great end profit, but really, at what cost? Surely it shouldn't be another humans life.

I am happy to see that some retailers have already taken a pledge to take strides to ensure that the workers producing their garments are in factories that are safe. I truly hope that others will follow suit. Money talks, and I personally would rather spend my money somewhere that cares for their workers, near or far.

Coming closer to home, Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries recently made some comments in regards to why A&F does not sell clothing larger than a size 10 for women and that he only wanted "thin and beautiful" people wearing his clothes. A quote from 2006 reportedly has has also gone viral with him saying the following:
 ‘In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.’
Selective sizing is nothing new to the clothing industry and every retailer understandably has a target market. But I can't help but wonder given the current culture of bullying today, what kind of message this sends the tween/teen market. Whether or not this is just another A&F PR stunt, I'm sure there are other, kinder ways, to promote ones brand. 


Do events like these and the response (or lack there of) from retailers change the way you shop? Would you pay more for clothing knowing that the workers were in better conditions? Would you stop shopping at a retailer for so openly disregarding a segment of people, even if it did not include you?

Feel free to go anonymous (just this once!) because I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

16 comments :

  1. Honestly, this is something I want to (and should) think about more. Great post!

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    1. Sounds like a good plan :)

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  2. Ok that Abercrombie guy is a douche. And he's not exactly the most beautiful person either (on the inside AND out!), so he shouldn't even be talking!

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    1. LOL. My thoughts exactly, but I didn't want to be harsh. ("Beauty is in the eye...", etc.) What I am curious to know is what he was like in his teens.

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  3. This is so difficult. To be honest, I usually pay almost no attention to where my clothes are made. If I see "Made in USA" it usually helps me justify the purchase. However, after taking a class on sourcing in college - I learned that outsourcing and seeing "Made in China" on more than half of the things in your closet isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's just a lot to think about, and a lot to learn. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm pretty clueless about working conditions until something like the Bangladesh tragedy occurs. Thank you for bringing up this topic - I think I need to do some research. And that A&F CEO - if that quote is legitimate, shame on him.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with that! I definitely think Bangladesh brought about awareness due to its severity.

      Yeah, I have no words on him or his company.

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    2. This is something I want to pay more attention to as well...it's so important but really overlooked by consumers {myself included}. GREAT reminder!

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    3. Glad you found the post helpful! It's a great reminder to me too as sometimes, it's easy to slip and just buy whatever!

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  4. This is something that has bothered me for years. I continually toy with the idea that I could only buy things made in the USA or Europe, or things purchased second hand, but it is so damn hard. 99% of everything I pick up is from Asia and shopping gets really depressing, really fast.

    My one success: cutting walmart out of my life. I've long disagreed with their treatment of their employees, all of them. And so often when I say I don't shop there people give me this dumbfounded look like it isn't possible or something. As long as my small local businesses are still open, I will shop in them. Walmart does not need my money.

    As for paying more to know my clothes were made under fair, livable conditions? Yes, I definitely would. And I do want to support my own country as much as I possibly can.

    Chic on the Cheap

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    1. I too don't shop their for the same reasons. I find it disgusting that a company like that just refuses to treat their employers like human beings.

      I swear I do a little happy dance when I see "Made in USA. " I definitely pay more attention to and support those brands that do (like Karen Kane.)

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  5. I agree with you 100% on this. But what's even scarier are the designer companies who are legally able to put "made in Italy" or "made in France" on their goods even thought they're really made in factories in China. It's awful that some of these companies do this and it's obvious that the motivation behind it is pure greed.
    You can google the articles and they're pretty disheartening, especially when you think you're getting quality to match the price tag.

    Anyways, great post. Very though provoking and the A&F thing? Really disgusting. Although I have to admit that I do have a few tanks and my fave boyfriend sweat pant are from them...

    xx Nina

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    1. It's funny that your brought that up about the designer goods. I am finding more and more designer items are carrying the "made in china" stamp or "imported" on their websites. I will definitely be looking up some of those articles as I am very interested to know the reasons why (other than $$$$).

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  6. stunning reflexion, totally agree with youu!!
    really loved, so i stay here <3

    www.malesclutch.blogspot.com
    Sergio, xx

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  7. I've traveled into the poorest parts of China where the illiterate and the poor would leave their villages to either work in these factories or go into prostitution. It's a catch 22 really. They depend on these factories for income but due to the demand of consumers and the greed of business owners to continually find ways to lower their operating costs, the workers suffer. For that reason, I've tried my darnest not to shop in most High St stores. It's also a cost saving as I find myself this kind of fast moving fashion scare the crap out of me. It's such a waste because people are now buying and discarding more, not less.

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    1. Very great and interesting posts you made! It really is a catch 22, but sadly, fueled by greed. I never thought of the fast fashion shops in that way, but you are SO right! Buying more and discarding more couldn't be more accurate. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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