China's Sweatshops, Pollution & Inferior Goods Keep Prices Low, But at What Costs? Second City Style Fashion Blog


Temperley at Target

Do you ever wonder how it’s possible to buy a cute sweater at H&M for $40, but you can’t find one for under $300 at Bergdorf’s? On the other hand you also question how China can keep manufacturing inferior goods and get away with it? Maybe our insatiable appetite for cheap goods are to blame. Low prices are coming at a cost that consumers and fashion companies can no longer ignore.

According to an article in today’s WWD, globalization
and relentless retail competition among the likes of Wal-Mart, Target,
H&M, Kohl’s, Gap and Macy’s might have turned supply chain
"efficiency" into a high art, but the pressure on factories has spurred
a slew of sweatshops, industrial pollution and consumer safety concerns
that many expect ultimately will increase prices

At the same
time, rising wages in China are only increasing pressure on
manufacturers there as they strive to maintain the nation’s status as
the world’s low-cost factory across a variety of product categories.
This could result in even more shortcuts being taken by suppliers as
they subcontract out more of their production which could spell greater dangers.

Recent safety
recalls of Chinese-made toys, bibs and toothpaste prompted consumer
outcries and governmental reviews in both the U.S. and China that could
lead to new regulations in both countries. The misery and human toil of
sweatshops and the green issue has gained traction in the last year,
especially with tales of industrial pollution making front-page news.

Yet, what
is becoming clear in these scandals is the relentless drive toward
lower and lower prices — whether it’s a toy or T-shirt — it comes
at a price, be it greater pollution, displaced populations or possible
safety hazards.

these issues rarely impact the luxury or high-end designer world, they
could for those designers and celebrity designers who are tying to broaden the reach of their brands. Think Karl Lagerfeld for H&M, Vera Wang for Kohl’s or Sarah Jessica
Parker for Steve & Barry’s.

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