Does “Made in China” Clothing Get An Unfairly Bad Rap?

Stewart + Brown, Karen Stewart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, made in the USA

Karen Stewart, co-founder and designer of Stewart + Brown

To answer bluntly, yes, China does get an unfair rap due to various health, human-rights, and environmental issues that have surfaced over the years, along with recent anti-fast-fashion sentiment. This is also a question we asked ourselves before Stewart + Brown, which is produced mostly in the United States, embarked on working with Chinese production facilities for some of our knits. Through our research, as well as personal experience, we discovered that with the bad also comes the good.

Stewart + Brown, Karen Stewart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, made in the USA

DIFFERENT STROKES

The best advice we can give regarding the ethics of buying clothing manufactured in China is for customers to do some due diligence on what goes on behind the “Made in China” label on their would-be purchase. Every company operates differently.

Every company is different, so you need to do find out what goes on behind each “Made in China” label.

At Stewart + Brown, we value our Chinese vendors for their centuries-old wisdom, expertise, and pride in craftsmanship. We’ve visited and continue to check in with the factories we work with in China on a regular basis. Our partners are family-run businesses that follow very stringent regulations and labor practices, while maintaining the cleanest working conditions.

Stewart + Brown, Karen Stewart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, made in the USA

BRASS TACKS

Minimizing our impact on the environment and treating people with dignity are two of our brand’s precepts. Our factories in China operate according to fair-trade guidelines, just like the ones we work with in the United States and Mongolia. This means that all factories are required to:

  1. Create a safe, non-hazardous, and productive environment for all workers, including access to first aid and the eschewal of toxic carcinogens.
  2. 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.
  3. Adhere to environmental regulations including treating and purifying all waste water, recycling raw materials when possible, and no illegal waste dumping.

Stewart + Brown, Karen Stewart, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, sustainable style, made in the USA

FACTORY CONDITIONS

One of our factories in China is the very same one that Patagonia uses for its production. Patagonia probably has one of the most stringent environmental and fair-labor rules in the entire apparel industry.

For good or for ill, there is no one-size-fits-all box for made-in-China manufacturing.

Another interesting piece of info is that this facility is actually one of China’s first-ever “green” factories. The owner, who is also a personal friend, worked with the Chinese government to establish a new protocol for eco-friendly apparel-factory conditions. This particular factory, not only adheres to CSCC standards, but it also uses solar power, as well.

In short, for good or for ill, there is no one-size-fits-all box for made-in-China manufacturing. It’s up to us to be educated consumers, to make mindful purchases, and to support companies that are operating in an ethical and conscious manner, no matter where that may be.

+ Stewart + Brown

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5 Responses to “Does “Made in China” Clothing Get An Unfairly Bad Rap?”

  1. Pingyoo says:

    I think its pretty sad myself.

    Lou
    http://www.anonymous-vpn.tk

  2. NotTellinYou says:

    You wrote: “Continue to check in with the factories we work with in China on a regular basis. Our partners are family-run businesses that follow very stringent regulations and labor practices, while maintaining the cleanest working conditions.”

    How about you take some of the money you’ve saved using the cheap labor over there and station someone as a factory liaison (US National) IN THE FACTORY who you require to be present on site any day the factory is open and for at least one complete shift. Of course you might have a hard time getting someone to work those hours but if it’s good enough for these factory workers why not!

    You wrote: “Create a safe, non-hazardous, and productive environment for all workers, including access to first aid and the eschewal of toxic carcinogens.”

    This is me shows how bad things really are there! I mean seriously, do you really think you need to state this? Is it so bad over there you feel the need to say what should be a given? Do you have this little line above the entrance to your offices? Wow.

    You wrote: “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.”

    What I find disingenuous here is you lead the reader to think in terms of US labor and hourly job regulations when you know full well that in China the idea of a 40 hour work week doesn’t exist. You talk about “overtime pay” but fail to tell us exactly what constitutes “overtime”! 50? 60 hours? You talk about “fair and regulated” wages as if again it relates to a living wage here in the US. The fact is they work for pennies and that is why you’re using these factories to begin with! You end with “underage labor” but once again fail to tell us what that means in China.

    You wrote: “Adhere to environmental regulations including treating and purifying all waste water, recycling raw materials when possible, and no illegal waste dumping.”

    You can drive am 18-wheeler though the holes in that statement. This is more of the same where the inference is to the uninformed reader that US sensibilities and environmental laws apply. What equates to ” illegal waste dumping” in the US IS NOT what “illegal waste dumping” in China. China is systematically destroying its environment in pursuit of jobs and economic growth. It has no choice! It needs to keep a billion people employed and get companies like yours to move jobs there. To do that it needs to be CHEAP, REAL CHEAP, and that means low wages and lax regulation on many fronts, safety, quality, environmental, etc.

    You remind me of “hear no evil, see no evil”. Nothing to see here…move along!

  3. Laowai says:

    I currently live in China and let me tell you right now that Chinese manufactures deserve 98% of the bad rap they get

  4. urbanhillbillyorganics.com says:

    In my business, we tried retailing clothing made in China, and I was Never satisfied with the quality of the clothing. On the contrary, we had no trouble selling it.

  5. jrichar7 says:

    Based on your initial comment of “various health, human-rights, and environmental issues that have surfaced over the years” as well as the poor state of our economy in the US gives me no reason to even consider Chinese made clothing.

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