cultural critique

American Apparel just declared bankruptcy. The epitome of cool American clothing, worn by teens and college students throughout the United States, proudly declared their products were manufactured in the United States, sweatshop free. The company, which was founded in Montreal, is officially broke. As unfortunate as that fact is, it’s equally understandable why patrons are spending their money elsewhere; mom jeans should not cost ninety dollars. The price tag tacked on food, schoolbooks, rent, and miscellaneous activities and events constantly rise, forcing students to search for cheaper alternatives. The same is true for clothing; the cheapest items found, and bought, are found on international online websites, like eBay and Aliexpress.

American Apparel is iconic; the clothes are overpriced, but the satisfaction of the “AA” label makes it all worth it. Finding that same sweater, with the same tag, for sixty dollars less almost ensures the sale. Aliexpress.com manufactures sweaters, pants, shoes, even underwear, at 90% less than the original cost, with American Apparel labels, and quality, identical to the company. “Name brand” attire from dozens of epochal manufacturers worn in the states can be found there, at a fraction of the price. The faceless site never once mentions its workers, unlike American Apparel though. The products are merely made, then posted. Much like Amazon.com or eBay.com, a slew of sellers function on this hub, distributing goods. Working conditions in Asian countries are notorious for their questionable working conditions, but rest assured, the conditions associated with unemployment are equally as horrific, if not worse. Men, women, and children work to survive, not for the lovely imitation clothing their patrons purchase, but for food, rudimentary schooling, and to preserve the homes they live in. Not every seller practices unfair treatment of workers, but the workers that are forced into working long hours for little pay have no other option. They are providing for themselves, and often their family. If the only source of income they receive is depleted, they will greatly suffer, and may die. America has welfare assistance, and a solid minimum wage system; China does not. Just as in America, when unqualified potential workers apply for jobs, they receive the jobs no one else would ever want; the same is true in places like China and Bangladesh and India. The prospect of unemployment in utterly unimaginable: finding another job in a market which caters to over 1 billion people is hopeless. Boycotting a company like this is entirely complex: I believe, and I know you also believe, that these workers deserve better. In their respective countries, there is no better. http://www.learnliberty.org/videos/top-3-ways-sweatshops-help-poor-escape-poverty/. They are not qualified for other positions, and they continue to return to work because without it, the small semblance of a future they have, of the promise of days to come, is forever shattered. Children work in these sweatshops, and many stay to afford schooling, and the opportunity of an education which will save them from sweatshops as an adult, while others work to escape arranged marriages to older men. Why would anyone want that child to quit, just to live an equally wretched life?

Before condemning Made-in-China products, it is important to understand that most athletic shoes, toys, coffee, rugs, smartphones and various clothing are made in the same type of place my $14 loafers were made. They fall under labels like Nike, Apple, Disney, Starbucks, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and even Wal-Mart. http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-major-clothing-brands-caught-in-shocking-sweatshop-scandals/?view=all These companies are incredibly well-known, and prosperous (much more than American Apparel currently claims to be)-the likelihood of the boycotting of these products is minimal; rightfully so. These workers are under horrendous conditions, and that is why they need consumer’s money. Without it, they would have worked 16-hour days for nothing at all. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Probably not. I certainly can’t. As my AA knockoff sweater rests in my closet, at 17.99, I have no intention of returning to American products anytime soon.

hese companies are incredibly well-known, and prosperous (much more than American Apparel currently claims to be)-the likelihood of the boycotting of these products is minimal; rightfully so. These workers are under horrendous conditions, and that is why they need consumer’s money. Without it, they would have worked 16-hour days for nothing at all. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Probably not. I certainly can’t. As my AA knockoff sweater rests in my closet, at 17.99, I have no intention of returning to American products anytime soon.

Advertisements