There’s a lot of talk these days about where products are made. Many people are specifically looking for Made in America labels. Just last week, I saw an article in The New York Times about the resurgence of textile factories in the United States due to customer demands for American-made goods– and how they can’t meet demand because there is a shortage of workers with the necessary skills and the willingness to do this kind of work. I understand what drives this demand– the belief that American Made means higher quality, the desire to keep jobs at home, and the concern about working conditions abroad. The images of the collapsed factory in Bangladesh, and the human chain required to carry hundreds of victims out of the rubble, made me heartsick.
I am especially sympathetic to the status of working conditions overseas because I have been in dozens of factories throughout the world and I’ve seen conditions ranging from unacceptable to outstanding. And I’ve seen the opportunities which good factories can offer young women and men with few other employment options.
As with most things, balance is required. I’d love to see more textile factories in the U.S., providing good wages and decent working conditions to a willing-and-able workforce, and producing quality merchandise for consumers. I’d also like to see consumers demanding quality products made with fair labor practices for all of their purchases.
There is good news for Lucky & Me customers– all Lucky & Me products are made in apparel factories located in Sri Lanka and they are held to the highest standards for workplace conditions and labor practices. Sri Lanka is known for its textile mills and garment factories and the government of Sri Lanka has achieved recognition for its support of social responsibility in the apparel industry. The Sri Lankan apparel industry has long had a program called Garments Without Guilt, which emphasizes the importance of ethical standards, including opposition to child labor and protection of the environment. I have worked with several textile manufacturers in Sri Lanka who live and work by these principles and have visited many facilities over the years– all have been outstanding and many are world class. A former colleague, Mahesh Amalean, CEO of a premier Sri Lanka apparel company, MAS Holdings, was just interviewed on Bloomberg about this. Take a look at this video in which he talks about their response to customer demands for social responsibility.
But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Athletic wear brand, Lululemon, made a video about their factory visit to Sri Lanka. Watching this video will give you a great sense of this beautiful country and the benefits of producing in Sri Lanka.
Lucky & Me is also looking to produce some of their product in the U.S. Stay tuned to this blog for more information soon!
Liz Smith has worked across the globe for many of the world’s major apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Justice, and Hanes. She has earned thousands of airline points and worn out several suitcases visiting factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising– so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.