Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Sweet Nike.. you bastards. Week 4

Retail corporations generally bring in large amounts of profit. Nike, Levi, and toy distributors especially fair extremely well in today's American consumer culture. Always marketing to a younger demographic, these companies, as well as others, are able to sometimes charge ridiculous prices for items such as sneakers, jeans, and games. Usually produced cheaply, clothing and apparel industry can maximize profits. However, it is seldom stressed, the horrible conditions under which laborers work. Workers in sweatshops usually are underpaid and overworked. Children as young as 6 enter dangerous work place under terrible conditions. Nike, as of late, has come extreme scrutiny for their production practices. Their factories in Indonesia are known to be horrible work places. Holstein et. al contends that although sweat shops are exploitative and dangerous, they do have some benefits. For instance, Nike at one point has most of its sneakers manufactured in South Korea. South Korea then evolved into "an industrial powerhouse with a higher living standard". (Holestein et. al) However, in the end, cheaper products should not be worth the immense turmoil it causes for other human beings.
Counterfeiting has also become a lucrative industry. What I found most interesting was that the quality of knock off brands has increased. In some cases, workers at retail stores can not even tell the difference between the knock off and authentic versions. One retail chain actually accidentally purchased several counterfeit hand bags. Decker contends that although the counterfeit industry might appear to be innocent and in a sense, an industry for the people, it does have several negative implications. One of them being a source of Italian mafia crime. It has been shown that the Italian mafia has had their hand in the counterfeiting industry. This industry in turn generates income for the Mafia's other business enterprises.
Holestein et. al's article about sweatshops really hit close to home. I actually grew up in El Monte. Throughout my childhood, I always heard rumors of there being sweatshops in town. I never paid attention to it until high school when one of my friends actually spilled to us that her parents work at one of these places. It has now become pretty apparent. I know where some of these places actually are!
The compact challenge has become increasingly easier. I no longer spend my time idly looking at new shoes or clothes. Instead, I choose to read up on today's news and search for other outlets of occupying my time. However, I almost had a relapse. I ventured to the outlets and of course, had to make a stop at Nike. I definitely found a deal (or two, or three, or four). About to purchase them I realized that looking at my bank statement that day prevented me from doing so.

Check this Video out!

"Knockouts of Knockoffs: The Global Implication of Fashion Piracy" Melissa A. Decker, Contemporary Perspectives
"Santa's Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it's hard to Know Who Made Your Gift". Holstein et. al


Chris Quach
Blog # 4

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