As you may already know, CafePress has recently decided to discontinue offering an American Apparel shirt and replace it with a “CafePress Exclusive Label” branded shirt. To this point, CafePress has declined to disclose from where its new “CafePress Exclusive Label” shirts will be produced, and under what conditions. CafePress Director of Merchandising Cindy Clarke offered an explanation to me in an e-mail, then cut and paste that explanation word for word into a CafePress message board. I think we can assume, therefore, that it isn’t an off-the-cuff remark but the result of some deliberation. Here’s the explanation:
I understand your concerns. CafePress shopkeepers require a broad spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments. Since our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are sourced internationally. Likewise, our product assortment covers both branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand. We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are appropriate for their shops. CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as possible both legally and ethically.
The phrase “we leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are appropriate for their shops” sounds deliciously freeing, like some kind of Burger Kingish have-it-your-way ethical libertarianism. But there’s a more-than-teensy problem here: shopkeepers who work through Cafepress cannot determine which products are appropriate for their shops to the extent that CafePress withholds information about those products and their production. It’s like asking someone to choose an employee without giving them access to a resume, or asking a consumer to buy a computer without providing access to a specifications sheet — a person simply can’t make an informed determination without information.
It’s not as if CafePress doesn’t know where its shirts come from, and it either knows the conditions under which those shirts are made (which CafePress surely wouldn’t mind sharing if the shirts are really made “both legally and ethically”), or it doesn’t know the conditions under which those shirts are made (in which case we really have to wonder about CafePress’ judgment).
So if you haven’t already, send an e-mail on today to:
a) Cindy Clarke, Director of Merchandise for CafePress, at email@example.com.
b) firstname.lastname@example.org â€” the special e-mail account which CafePress has specifically created to take further questions about new merchandise
… and ask when information about the CafePress Exclusive Label brand apparel’s production will be shared with the people who are expected to sell it.