polo logo shirts An ethical shopping trip means more than comparing price tags
SubscriptionsGo to the Subscriptions Centre to manage your:My ProfileAmidst the anguish of the families in Bangladesh as they pull dead and injured out of a collapsed factory building, it seems trite to talk about the price of underwear.But this is the place where the horrible reality of developing country manufacturing bumps up against the commonplace of our daily lives. Suddenly we are forced to realize that our search for cheap and cheerful fashions, or something as mundane as socks and t shirts, is directly connected to the misery of others.As someone said to me today, “it’s obvious” bargain prices for clothing here in the first world inevitably lead to the kind of conditions that kill people in the developing world.If that is true, the answer is also obvious. Stop buying cheap clothing and only buy relatively expensive stuff where people in poor countries are not exploited.How can you tell if your shirt was made in a sweatshop?Bangladesh rescuers dig deeper as death toll passes 300I was suspicious of this analysis, so I went on a research trip to the Hudson’s Bay store at Toronto’s Yonge and Queen.The reason I focus on underwear is because there is a direct personal connection. It just so happens that shortly before the disaster in Bangladesh, I’d gone out and bought five pairs of inexpensive Joe Fresh underwear. They cost $6 a pair.That made me think: had I unwittingly done harm to someone in a distant factory through my purchase?So to do my research I went to the underwear section of the Bay.The first ones I looked at were Calvin Kleins, two pairs for $30, or $15 a piece. They were made in Cambodia, the 186th richest country on earth out of the 229 recognized by the CIA Factbook. People in Cambodia make about $2,300 a year. They are only marginally richer than the people in Bangladesh.Tommy Hilfigers,at $17.50 a pair, were made in Indonesia, 157th richest on the list, where people earn about $5,000 a year.The most expensive ones I saw were branded Diesel at $40 a pair. They were made in India, 166th on the list, average income per person of $3,900 less than Indonesia, but about twice the per capita income of Bangladesh.Polo Ralph Lauren (Indonesia and China), Hugo Boss (Egypt), Jockey (Costa Rica), Joe Boxer (with Canadian flags; made in Thailand), were all manufactured in poor countries.Most importantly, there was no clear relationship between price and the poverty of the country where they were made.