fugitive denim

Friday 15 February, 2008

I attended this event sponsored by the Chicago Council Global Affairs on this book (with this review) written by Rachel Louse Snyder (podcast) The premise is fairly simple. Rachel explores the supply chain of a pair of jeans from its beginning to end, from the cotton from which they’re made to the retailers that stock them on the shelves. You can read the book, review, & listen to the podcast. Here’s what came out of the discussion (moderated by Melissa Gamble, dir. of fashion arts & events, dept. of cultural affairs of the city of chicago):

sweatshops in Cambodia have been eradicated in return for access to US market (since expired)

Horses are equated with husbands in Azerbaijan, sometimes kept in the house.

Chinese women factory workers are not all that different from women of other countries-their employer brought in trainers to teach them ultimately how to talk to boys

poor women working to support men & their children now should result in empowering the next generations.

textiles are 85% of Cambodia’s exports, but world-wide quotas have been lifted & the Cambodian economy has not readjusted yet. Due to competition from China, 30 countries may remain in textile production in the best case-in the worst case only 8-10 countries will remain.

Bono’s Eden line pays workers $300/month, much more than any others, which explains why they’re so expensive.

the word fair means different things in different countries-should there be subsidies for cotton-growers or not? We need 3rd party monitors if we seriously want things to improve.

Things are not all rosy in China. Employment there is losing 1 million workers per month to technology, just like us. Labor costs are up, & there are demonstrations about which we never hear a word.

Despite all this, Rachel remains optimistic. Change creates opportunity.


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