Friday, April 26, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, April 26, 2013

What’s the real cost of a cheap $8 shirt?

What is the real cost of an $8 T-shirt?

Canadian consumers grappled with the guilt and confusion tied to that question Thursday as horror played out in Bangladesh. The sheer magnitude of the factory collapse outside Dhaka is unprecedented even in that poor Asian nation, where an estimated 700 people working in its booming garment industry have died on the job in the past eight years.

Experts on discount culture say that Westerners’ craving for cheap clothes does not have to come at the expense of worker safety, and angry consumers took up that call on social media Thursday, condemning the brands whose garments were made at the collapsed factory.

Those brands include Joe Fresh, the Brampton, Ont., based company that has been celebrated by fashion insiders and regular shoppers for providing the latest trends at bargain prices.

Hundreds of people wrote on the retailer’s Facebook and Twitter pages, saying that the company’s response to the disaster amounted to too little, too late.

Joe Fresh’s parent company, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., released a statement Wednesday that said a “small number” of Joe Fresh items were made at the Bangladeshi factory.

“What constitutes ‘a small number of … items?’ Does sourcing slave labour on a small scale make you less responsible than those who do it on a large scale? Put on your humanity hat, dig into those massive Joe Fresh profits, grab your corporate shareholders and head over to help the recovery,” wrote Kelly Penman of Brampton. (Source: Globe & Mail)