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What is the Real Cost of Those Amazing Clothing Deals?

Written By: Christine Dantz

Clothing makes the man, or woman. In the ever-changing materialistic world, most Americans scramble for amazing clothing deals. They dash to department stores, malls, and online, where they just eat up deals on brand names like Gap, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger. Few Americans stop to think about the suffering endured by the men, women, and children slaving in the factories overseas so they can cash in on those deals. Add to that, the only party who saves is the corporation, not the worker, and not the customer.

Yes, you are sad that some American companies go outside the U.S., however, it's their right to do that, and you are saving a lot of money too, right? Wrong.

  • A denim shirt that's sold at the Gap for $59.99 will cost $13.22 to produce in an American factory, but it will only cost $3.72 to produce in a factory located in Bangladesh

In each of these cases, the stockholders are the winners. The average American isn't on this list. That's because the top 10 percent of Americans own 81 to 94 percent of the stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity.

The Human Cost

A recent report commissioned by European retailers shows 80,000 safety hazards in JUST 1,100 of Bangladesh's retail factories. Inspectors found issues ranging from minor infractions to major safety issues. Bangladesh is the world's second-largest textile exporter, second only to China and almost a quarter-million dollar industry for the impoverished nation.

Back in the USA News story, What is the Real Cost of Those Amazing Clothing Deals,
Workers in a Bangladesh clothing factory



A similar report, compiled by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, finished inspections in the 587 factories used by the groups 26 companies. Members include many well-known names in the retail industry such as:

  • Limited
  • Carter's Inc.
  • The Children's Place
  • Costco Wholesale Corporation
  • Fruit of the Loom, Inc.
  • Gap, Inc.
  • J.C. Penny Company, Inc.
  • Jordache Enterprises, Inc.
  • Kohl's Department Stores
  • L.L. Bean Inc.
  • Macy's
  • Nordstrom Inc.
  • Sears Holdings Corporation
  • Target Corporation
  • VF Corporation
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • YM Inc.

This rush to inspect conditions came at the expense of the 1,138 factory workers killed and over 2,000 injured nearly a year and a half ago at the Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Over 25 global retailers had recent or current orders pending with the five factories located in the single building. Within a month of the tragic collapse, Bangladesh, along with the International Labor Organization shut down 18 clothing factories for safety issues.

Back in the USA News story, What is the Real Cost of Those Amazing Clothing Deals,
Civilian volunteers assisted in rescue operations at Rana Plaza, an eight-story building that collapsed on April 24, 2013 in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. (From the New York Times)

Consider the fact that the South Asian country survives on garment manufacturing, which employs as many as four million people. The sad truth is that the 1,687 factories inspected by the two groups cover just a fraction of more than 4,500 factories in Bangladesh.



What Are the Violations?

Nearly every American can provide a story about a nightmare job either they had or someone they knew had. However, the nightmare conditions faced by children and adults in overseas factories make most American stories pale in comparison.

Listen to the experiences of some of the survivors of Rana Plaza as they call on brands to Pay Up! (credit: Rainbow Collective.)

In the Rana Plaza disaster, the factories were inside a shopping mall, built over a swampland. If that wasn't enough, the owner added four illegal floors—just how did that go unnoticed? The five factories were kept running by four industrial size generators on the top floor to keep production running day and night.

Of the factories that need closure until improvements are complete, structural issues were the main concern. Many of the violations were a result of overloading floors with machinery, merchandise, and workers. Other problems, found throughout the inspections, were:

  • Outdated, non-working, and inadequate fire equipment
  • No fire exits, or automated fire systems

Again, because of the large number of factories and lack of consistent safety oversight, these inspections are far from complete or thorough.  

Wouldn't it be better for America to continue bringing manufacturing back home so they can take pride knowing the money they spend on apparel stays in America? Moreover, that money goes to quality—safe products—made in the U.S.—by Americans—for Americans. This includes the addition of having the peace of mind that there is no blood on your hands from unsafe manufacturing practices.

Back in the U.S.A. works to bring you quality products made in America. Stop by the website today where you will find an extended list of companies that manufacture and product a wide array of products, right here in America.


Other Articles of Interest:

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Cotton Products "Made in China:" Is Your Baby Safe?

Banning Ourselves into Oblivion

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