fashion journalism

Even though it’s known that independent monitoring has weaknesses, that doesn’t stop companies from trumpeting their passing marks. But as O’Rourke explains, “Flawed monitoring can do more harm than good it can divert attention from the real issues in a factory.” IN SEARCH OF A TELL-TALE SIGN So let’s say that one day the Fashion Victim becomes a truly caring consumer, willing to expend extra energy to dig up the humble history of each and every new garment she buys. As it stands right now, that’s not an easy task. In 1998, UCLA freshman Arlen Benjamin set out to trace the origin of a Fruit of the Loom shirt she bought in her campus store. After getting nowhere with phone calls to the company’s corporate headquarters, she took a trip to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with her mother, Medea, a human rights activist. The pair located five factories in the area making Fruit of the Loom products but were turned away from each one. They ended up talking to local union leaders, who finally shared some of the horrors of the Honduran sweatshops with them. Even after their globe-trotting, the Benjamins still got to see only a small portion of the picture . . . imagine how little the average consumer knows. When respondents in a 1999 Marymount University survey (The Consumer and Sweatshops) were asked, “What would most help you avoid buying clothes made in sweatshops?” 56 percent said a fairlabor label would be the most helpful, while 33 percent preferred a list of companies and stores that have been identified as using or tolerating sweatshop labor. But it’s often not as easy as singling out certain companies, since labor conditions can vary even within one company, from factory to factory. Many labor rights activists, like Katie Quan of the John F. Henning Center for International Labor Relations, suggest buying only clothes with a union label, under the assumption that unionized workers were probably paid a decent wage. But that requires an effort something most Fashion Victims aren’t willing to exert. Most consumers don’t have instant access to union-made clothes at every store they frequent. And the union label may not offer much reassurance, after all. A study showed that three-quarters of UNITE’s New York factories are sweatshops by the union’s own standards, violating wage, hour, and safety regulations.How to become a fashion journalist Allnewhairstyles

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