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I think solmu linked to that Jane article (mentioned in the globalaware article above), in another thread that talked about American Apparel. Surprised me to see that side of things.

It is interesting information. There are definitely AmericanApparel "fanatics" out there, and sometimes I wonder if they see the whole picture, or if they are just caught up in the "idea" of sweatshop free.

I don't want to turn this into a "company bashing" thread though; that's not what these forums are about :)

AmericanApparel makes some nice t-shirts. They aren't the only "sweatshop free" manufacturer around, they are currently just the most popular (and one of the pioneers to make it a "mainstream" kinda thing). Mostly due to Dov's personality (the good points and not so good).

I've talked to Dov a couple of times years ago when he was just launching AA in the US and I was running teefinder. He seemed like a "forward thinking" dude. Lots of big ideas. I don't know if he's going for the "even bad publicity is good publicity" angle or what.
 

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Rodney said:
I think solmu linked to that Jane article (mentioned in the globalaware article above), in another thread that talked about American Apparel. Surprised me to see that side of things.
Yeah, I think I did. I think they put it up on their website because so many people were talking about it. I'm not really sure how big Jane is, but I get the impression that article is probably the most well known thing they've ever done.

Rodney said:
It is interesting information. There are definitely AmericanApparel "fanatics" out there, and sometimes I wonder if they see the whole picture, or if they are just caught up in the "idea" of sweatshop free.
I'd say there's probably more people supporting AA to be seen doing so, than due to any real regard. It's disturbing how many people say they support AA for ethical reasons, but then don't care when various ethical transgressions (i.e. sexism and union busting) are pointed out.

Then of course there's those who simply like their shirts. That seems entirely amoral (i.e. fine), but I hate the hypocrisy of the other group.

It must be damn frustrating for the other sweatshop free companies who feel like they are more deserving of the positive attention (the fact is Dov beat them to it despite the fact that some other companies had a head start on him though).

Rodney said:
I don't know if [Dov is] going for the "even bad publicity is good publicity" angle or what.
My take is that he's pretty much telling the truth about just being upfront about who he is. He made a couple of unsuccesful attempts at starting AA before it got off the ground; I'd speculate that what made him successful and what (sometimes) makes him fail are exactly the same thing. It's often a fine line.

The Guardian (as in the UK newspaper) recently published a good article about AA. It doesn't dwell too much on the extremes of what's good or bad about AA, but as a result it is more balanced than a lot of articles. It would probably give a good overview for anyone who hasn't been keeping up to date and wants to catch up.
 

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Ah, the Guardian.......I wish I was in the UK again, sometimes.

And AA is creepy. The end.
 

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I'm with Monkeylantern on this one. AA creeps me out. I used their stuff on a few early prints and I like their product, but all the attendant buzz and otherness is too much. As far as the whole "sweatshop-free" line, that's an interesting issue. I think what we might consider a sweatshop in another country might very well be a blessing to those folks. Our western definitions don't always translate well into other societies... Okay, I'll shut up.
 

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I have to agree on this somewhat, Honeyflip. Our company does NOT run sweatshops... and I hate that people have been programmed to think that if we have some of our goods made over-seas that we are automatically working with sweatshops. That's just simply not the case! Our factories are sometimes the best place in the the cities we manufacture in to work. The employees are making money to support their families -- our business gives them that chance. It's just a pain to explain over and over that we do NOT work with sweatshops.
 

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Yeah, I know what you mean. I've spent a lot of time working in third world countries and, take it as you will, folks there generally have much different expectations in terms of work, salary, etc. Being able to support a family with a decent job can be quite a rarity...
 

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People will believe anything they read! If you do believe it… then at least it’s not as bad as Calvin Klein and little boys!


It’s not that they really promote “sweat-free” shops. They are the only apparel company that’s totally 100% made in the US. That’s their angle.

Levis’ was right with them and bowed out about a year ago. Hanes claims the same, but their stuff is either died in other countries, and just stitched in the US, or visa versa.
 

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CoolHandLuke said:

It’s not that they really promote “sweat-free” shops. They are the only apparel company that’s totally 100% made in the US. That’s their angle.


Are you sure about that one? Sweatshop free is one of AmericanApparel's biggest angles.

Also, I don't *think* they are the only apparel company that's totally 100% made in the US? Where did you read that?

There are brands like Union Jean, sosfromtexas, etc are also 100% made in the USA as well.
 

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I guess they do push the "100%" angle a lot, but it always feels like they push the sweat-shop thing harder. However, it says in that Guardian article that they pay their factory workers only slightly above minimum wage. If you're living in CA, that's pretty rough.
 

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honeyflip said:
If you're living in CA, that's pretty rough.
Depends on what your skillset is and how much is "slightly above". There are lots of people in CA making only the minimum wage. You're not going to get rich doing it or buy a fancy house, but I wouldn't call it "rough".
 

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honeyflip said:
However, it says in that Guardian article that they pay their factory workers only slightly above minimum wage. If you're living in CA, that's pretty rough.
I wouldn't say "only" - how many factories do you know who pay employees more than they legally have to?

Even in the first world plenty of other textiles manufacturers pay employees below minimum wage, no benefits, etc. (illegal yes, but it happens all too often). Sweatshops aren't just a problem in 2nd and 3rd world countries. Granted as has been discussed before obeying the law shouldn't be a marketable feature, but they are also providing some benefits beyond the legal minimum.

I have a lot of problems with AA, but there are some things they do well - and from what I've read paying their staff is one of those things. Bear in mind too that they pay a minimum of "slightly above minimum wage". Staff get bonuses for high production throughput (possibly the cause of some of the quality complaints I've heard...), and can actually be getting paid very well. An article I read mentioned how well - my memory suggests $12-18 is the range, but the bottom end may be less than that (it might have been more like a minimum of $9, with most staff getting $12-18).
 

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$18 an hour is good money - I'll bow to that. However, it's a bit of a contextual thing in California (and I realize we're getting way off-topic here). If you're living anywhere in the Los Angeles/San Francisco metro areas, as well as the bulk of the coastal regions (Santa Cruz/Monterey/Santa Barbara, on down to San Diego), the average 3-bedroom home is around $600,000. $18 an hour won't handle that kind of mortgage, which is why lots of immigrant (or one generation post-immigrant) families share homes with a second family. That's extremely common in my area (Monterey County).

As for everything else... I surrender (except that, in the local ag community here, workers are paid considerably higher than minimum wage)!
 
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