China is known throughout the world for being, a cheap and easy place to produce large quantities of clothes, for only a fraction of the price. Supplying designers from all over the world with garments, in a fast and efficient way. Some people however see the “made in china” label and automatically assume they are cheap and poor quality. Made by people in a “slave” like environment in sweat shops. Though this might be true in some parts of china, It is really up to the designers themselves to investigate into where and who they are getting to make their products, to be sure that they are receiving high quality garments and that the people making them are getting a fair wage for their craftsmanship.
Every company is different, so you need to find out what goes on behind your own “Made in China” label. Karen Stewart, co-founder and designer of Stewart + Brown
Some people believe China gets an unfair stereotype due to various human rights, and environmental issues, that have been breached over the years. Chinese vendors should be seen as a positive part of the manufacturing process. For their centuries years wisdom, expertise and pride in their craftsmanship. Companies, who investigate and choose carefully where their products are being produced, will benefit everyone in the long run.
Companies aim to follow these guidelines when working with china:
- Create a safe, non-hazardous, and productive environment for all workers, including access to first aid and the eschewal of toxic carcinogens.
- Treat labor in a fair way, which includes providing clean working environments, restrooms, regular breaks, fair and regulated wages, and overtime pay. And absolutely no underage labor.
- Adhere to environmental regulations including treating and purifying all wastewater, recycling raw materials when possible, and no illegal waste dumping.
But who really knows if these steps are really taken seriously or companies are merely interested in getting the cheapest form of production of their goods.
Having said this, consumers are still seen to be buying clothes made in china, not caring where they came from or what people had to go through in the production process. I personally don’t think about where the shops get there cloths manufactured, and don’t think it would change my opinion on a certain shop just because they get china to produce their goods. There have been allegations that the Olympic Pin badges for the London 2012 games where being made by children in Chinese sweat shops:
“Three young workers were said to have put in 11 hour days working in the fume-filled factory” (according to the Sunday express)
Children as young as 15 are put to work in these sweat shops, being paid only six pence an hour, to make these badges featuring the Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. This was discovered by an organization set up to protect workers producing products for the Olympic games 2012 known as Playfair. Last year three young workers where found to be doing 11 hours shifts in a remote workshop In the small town of Huizhou, and where promptly removed. Under Chinese law children under sixteen are not allowed to be employed full time. After production of the badges began in April last year. Playfair went on to discover a further two boys and a girl aged 15 working in poor health and safety conditions and living in cramped dormitories without excess to any hot water.
”We welcome and acknowledge that further action is necessary and are committed to act immediately to ensure that factory owners can no longer exploit workers in the name of the Olympics.”
To prevent this situation from arising again there has been a Chinese language hotline was set up to enable the workers/public to report situations where it is suspected that underage’s are working or to put forward any other pressing issues people feel need urgent attention. It is doubtful that this will put a stop to underage workers completely but it is a step in the right direction.