American Apparel CEO Dov Charney on Bangladesh Factory Collapse, Overseas Manufacturing
Dov Charney, CEO of Los Angeles manufacturer and supplier American Apparel, had strong words for his fellow apparel industry peers following the tragic collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh that left more than 800 dead.
"The apparel industry's relentless and blind pursuit of the lowest possible wages cannot be sustained over time, ethically or fiscally," Charney said in a letter published on American Apparel's website. "As labor and transportation costs increase worldwide, exploitation will not only be morally offensive and dated, it will not even be financially viable."
The letter was posted days after a garment factory collapsed in the South Asian country's capitol. In addition criticizing the common process of outsourcing labor, Charney reinforced the benefits of U.S. manufacturing, nothing that American Apparel is "sweatshop-free."
Charney also recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the working conditions in factories like the one that collapsed in April. "In Bangladesh, the problem with these factories is that they're only given contracts on a seasonal or order-by-order basis," he said. "There's so much pressure to perform, some of the working conditions are outrageous, almost unbelievable. It has completely stripped the human element from the brands."
The Associated Press last week reported that less than 1 percent of global apparel is "ethically made," defined as being made in factories with safe working conditions. According to the article, the global fashion trade is a $1 trillion dollar business, with the majority of companies making profits via cheap labor, rather than high ticket prices.
In his letter, Charney acknowledged and defended the increased costs associated with domestic manufacturing: "Making clothing responsibly in America required risk taking and long-term investment—we think it's well worth it."
To read the full post, visit American Apparel's website.