Two years ago, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,133 people and injuring over 2,500 more. When confronted with images of the destruction and loss of life, we all wanted to know what wecould do to shop more responsibly and stop contributing to the exploitation and even death of marginalized workers in developing countries.
One small step consumers can take is to flip over the tags on the clothes they buy to see where they are made. This is easy to do in the store, where every piece of clothing is required to have “Made in” information in the tag.
But what about online shopping, a $45 billion market? Online retailers will list the exact composition of the clothing they sell (“62% Silk, 48% polyester”), but refuse to say where clothing and accessories are made, listing them only as “Imported,” if they say anything at all.
Nordstrom had $9 billion in sales in 2013. It’s a company that prides itself on excellent customer service and quality goods, ranking among the ten most trusted brands according to a 2012 survey by Entrepreneur. It’s clear that they care about conducting their business ethically and serving the customer’s needs. But when they partnered with Piece & Co. to sell artisan-made items, even then, they listed them as “Imported.” What?
With their Yooxygen section and their partnership with Master & Muse, it’s clear that Yoox cares about giving space to sustainable and ethical fashion. Yet they don’t list anywhere in the clothing information where it was made. Net a Porter, which is merging with Yoox, doesn’t list the Country of Origin either.
As a consumer that is trying to be more conscious about buying clothes that are made fairly, this is incredibly frustrating and disappointing. Retailers may think that consumers “don’t care” about this stuff, but they’re not even giving us the chance to care!