This week, CafePress sent us a cap as a free sample, to get us excited about selling clothes using a technology they call InfiniStitch. It’s a way to get an image made on a computer automatically stitched as a badge on a piece of clothing.
That sounds really great, but there’s a problem, as seen on the sample cap filmed in the movie below: The stitching doesn’t actually look very good, and the words in the stitching are almost impossible to read.
That’s small stuff compared to the problem I found on the tag: The cap is made in China by a company called Alternative Apparel. The name Alternative Apparel sounds great, but there’s more to a business than just a name.
Alternative Apparel makes a lot of promises when it comes to the ethical treatment of workers in its Chinese factories, and it says that it inspects factories a few times a year in order to see if things are on the up-and-up. However, Alternative Apparel doesn’t really know what’s going on in those factories in China except on those special inspection days.
What’s going on in Chinese factories has been exposed: Forced prisoner labor, worker abuse, and even child slave labor. The New York Times recently reported that “Big corporations have stepped up inspections of factories that produce goods for them. But suppliers have become adept at evading such scrutiny by providing fake wage and work schedule data that suggest they abide by labor laws.” They report the use of Chinese child slave labor as “quite typical”.
Alternative Apparel surely knows about these problems, and the insufficiency of inspections in revealing the problem. Yet, they choose to do business in China anyway.
Why? That’s easy. They do it for the money.
Alternative Apparel chose to have the clothes it sells made in China in order to save money, so that they could make big profits. They knew that China has low labor costs because it has low standards of worker protection.
Alternative Apparel chose to outsource its manufacturing to China in order to avoid American laws that guarantee fair treatment of workers and environmental protections.
Do you want to support that choice? It’s your freedom to do so, but if you buy from companies like Alternative Apparel, please don’t act shocked when you hear about children being forced to work as slaves in China. You helped make it happen, after all, with every cheap thing you bought that was made in China.
American Apparel is the real thing. They follow American labor and environmental laws. Alternative Apparel doesn’t. They went for the ethical loophole. They’re just posers.
Do you want to wear clothes made by posers?