What the internet has done for me today…
I watched “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” last night. The main topic of the show was about where our fashion(s) come from. Usually, from some outsourced country where under age workers work in under safe working conditions. Of course, as I was watching this, other things in my deranged brain started to tick off and on.
I had a photo shoot with a model yesterday. I’ve worked with her many times over the years and have always been impressed with her fashion choices – especially her shoes. Her shoes are always pretty damned fabulous. As she was pulling out wardrobe for the shoot, she pulled out a sensational pair of heels and mentioned that she thought I may have actually shot these previously. Being old, I did not remember. She went on to say she got them from China.
I joked that some underprivileged children were probably making those shoes and wondered if after work those kids would go out and retrieve rejected shoes from the dumpster… then take them home and use them for their own purposes. I was imagining poor starving overworked and underpaid children walking around in sparkly and spiky high heels.
Then, later, I watched John Oliver. I was also thinking about the whole “Kohl’s Cash” scenario that Scott Walker discusses in most of his speeches. In his speech, he describes getting the best deal possible by using coupons and mailers and “Kohl’s Cash” rewards. He then goes on to ask how Kohl’s can possibly make any money.
I wondered about some of the clothing items that come from Kohl’s. There are many including a line of men’s suits bearing the name of Marc Anthony.
The Marc Anthony Collection was launched at the Kohl’s department store in the Newport Centre Mall on September 7, 2011. The debut of Anthony and Lopez’s lines marked the biggest product launch in the retailer’s history, according to CEO Kevin Mansell. To celebrate the launch of the Anthony and Lopez collections, Kohl’s launched a Best Friends Getaway contest, offering fifteen winners a chance to “live it up with their best friend on an all-expense paid trip to New York City.” The contest invited participants to submit a video “showing why they love Jennifer and/or Marc.” The prize package included “entry to a star-studded NYC Fashion Week event in September, dinner at one of Jennifer and Marc’s favorite NYC restaurants, a pampering session at an NYC salon, a $500 Kohl’s gift card, $500 spending cash, and a flip cam to record and report the experience.”
Prices range from $28 to $225. Of the collection, Anthony stated that it’s “for anybody who wants to feel good in clothes.” He was inspired to create the line after “years of having to wear clothing, in various situations, whether it be in public (or anywhere else).” He concluded: “It’s just about how the clothes feel. You can wear cool, stylish clothes but they don’t feel good. We made sure these clothes feel good. I’d wear them a billion percent of the time.” Anthony said he had input throughout the whole designing process, “even though he doesn’t have the technical skills to do things like create spec drawings.”
I wondered where this line of clothing comes from. Turns out it is being handled by Music Entertainment Sports Holdings, a division of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung’s U.S. division, and will sub-license the brands exclusively to Kohl’s under a long-term agreement.
So, who is Li & Fung? Well, they are a big deal Chinese company. They manufacture lot’s ‘o stuff for y’all. Most of your clothing is probably made by one of these companies if you shop at Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, or any number of local stores. Its chief asset is the 15,000 suppliers in over 60 countries that make up a network so sprawling that an order for 500,000 bubble skirts that once took six months from drawing board to store shelf now takes six weeks at a sliver of the price. They do not own any sewing machines, clothing factories or fabric mills.
Li & Fung also did business with this place over in Bangladesh. You might remember it in the news from 2012 when the place burned and 112 people died.
So… me joking around about kids pulling reject shoes out of the dumpster… not so hilarious now.
And when Scott Walker explains how the Kohl’s cash deal is how we get our country back to whatever magical place it is that he has in his mind… he’s not giving you this part of the story at all. Not that I’m any better than anyone else, I certainly buy cheap products from Walmart, Target, and other places because they are good enough and well… cheap. I do also know that there’s some really unfortunate individual out there who made my shit. I know that we rely on those people never making any money, never having adequate health care or adequate safety in the workplace all so we can keep those costs down so I can afford some cheap jeans.
Walker’s explanation is that Kohl’s makes money by selling volume. Some people may pay the higher price for that item (which is the same item made by some unfortunate individual in a Li & Fung’s supplier at any price) and many more will pay the lower price. He equates this to how we should pay taxes. In his scenario, if we lower the cost of taxes and put more and more people to work to pay cheap taxes – well, “Murica” will once again prosper. Somehow in this scenario he fails to mention that he’s busting unions and producing legislation that reduces the red tape involved with a lot of worker and environmental safety standards as well. Eventually, we will all be looking for reject shoes in a dumpster somewhere.
In summary, screw you, Scott walker.