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Made in the USA

Why American Apparel don’t score on labour conditions

Whatever you may think of jeggings – e.g., “only for those with noodle legs” – you have to admit that American Apparel has come up with a magic formula for selling clothes to the hipster generation. And they’ve built up a rep for being green. Short supply chains help them keep their carbon footprint low, and everything is cut, dyed and stitched in the good ol’ U. S. of A. Which means we don’t have to worry about sweatshops. So why do they only score one point out of eight for their labour conditions on our rankings?

Well, they don’t provide much in the way of hard figures – not for any of our questions. No total carbon emissions, no information on what chemicals they use. And no information on how they ensure a high standard in labour conditions. In fact, they don’t even publish a code of conduct – which is reasonably unusual (many brands don’t publish a very good one, but at least they make the effort). We can only assume that American Apparel doesn’t feel the need to publish it because of that “Made in the USA” status.

Tarnishing Uncle Sam’s reputation

And I have to admit, this would have been good enough for me, too. But that assumption was blown out of the water by this report issued by Made-By (a European NGO dedicated to making the fashion industry more sustainable). It reveals a list of countries that Made-By have deemed ‘low risk’ for poor labour conditions. And the USA does not make the cut.

This extract explains online casino why:

“The United States has not ratified core conventions on freedom of association, forced labour, discrimination and child labour. Though labour conditions in the United States are good on average, the garment industry faces particular problems. Due to the heavy competition of low wage countries the garment industry is declining rapidly. Competition is putting pressure on the labour conditions especially in the so called “sweatshops” mainly based in Los Angeles and New York. In these sweatshops living wage, working hours and the health and safety conditions are serious problems.”

Taken from page 7 of Made-By’s Benchmarked Developed Countries report, 2010 (our emphasis)

Los Angeles. That’s where American Apparel is based.

This does rather overturn that assumption of what “Made in the USA” actually means. American Apparel does name some of the benefits they grant employees – such as subsidized health insurance. But many key rights aren’t mentioned anywhere. Maybe it’s time they published that Code of Conduct.

Source: Inspired on Flickr, DonkeyHotey

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