On the subway in San Francisco this morning, I did a double take as we pulled into one of the downtown stations. Milling around among the other commuters were three women dressed in business casual, but something was slightly ... off. First of all, I could tell by their body language that they were promoting something. Then I saw that attached to every article of clothing they wore—even their shoes—was an oversize price tag bearing the Marshalls logo. As I watched, of of them handed a flyer to a woman who was clearly intrigued by the gimmick. The prices were pretty low: $12.99 for a blouse, if memory serves.
As the train pulled away, I started wondering what sort of person might have stitched that $12.99 blouse, and how old he or (more likely) she is. Does she earn a fair wage? Does she get to use the toilet when nature calls?
That reminded me of an article from the current issue of ReadyMade (which happens to be one of the magazines I freelance for) about a Dutch organization called Made-By that’s both an umbrella label for companies that aim to produce their garments in a socially responsible, sustainable way, and an initiative that’s working to create greater transparency in the supply chain and helping clothing companies to clean up their production process. Especially cool is the Made-By labels “Check it out” tracking feature, which lets you type in the garment’s bar code to find out where it was made.