Back in the summer 2004, Adbusters had spent months telling the world that it would be selling sweatshop-free sneakers. Kalle Lasn and his crew of “culture jammers” had put forth a lot of attitude on their move, but hadn’t followed through with the production of an actual sneaker. I gave Adbusters a fairly hard time for their empty talk. At the same time, an organization called No Sweat Apparel (that would rebrand itself as Bienestar corporation) had with fairly little fuss and no mention of “culture jamming” or “kicking Nike’s ass” gone ahead and arranged for the production of a shoe in an Indonesian union shop. So I gave No Sweat a bit of a kissy-face in an interview.
Fast forward to the winter of 2008, and No Sweat has stopped selling its brand of union-made shoes. On the other hand, Adbusters’ Blackspot shoe, made in a union shop in Portugal, has gone right on trucking. Three varieties of Adbusters shoes are now available, and they’re not only sweatshop-free, but made of organic hemp to boot. Well, only one of them’s a boot, but you know what I mean.
Slow and steady (and, ok, ok, culture jammy) wins the race.