New York – As word breaks of yet another clothing manufacturing factory disaster, this time in Cambodia, prominent retailers are on edge, fearing that the substandard inspection regimes and inhuman working conditions of the sweatshops that manufacture their wares may present a liability in the sphere of public opinion.
Many expressed shock and surprise that this could have happened. After decades of moving from country to country in search of rock bottom labor prices and the loosest building codes possible, an accident of this magnitude was unimaginable to executives at top clothing companies.
“It’s truly a shame that these buildings have collapsed in such a public way. We really don’t want people thinking that the pair of jeans they just paid $90 for were made by someone making 30 cents an hour in a building with no windows and locked doors,” said Gary Hedstrom, Vice President of Marketing for the North American Garment Manufacturers Association.
Clothing retailers face the added burden of dealing with a supply chain emergency during a critical juncture between two seasons. With summer just around the corner, Western countries face a severe shortage of clothing options that allow full exposure of arms and legs.
“There were literally hundreds of thousands of cargo shorts in that building,” Hedstrom noted, referencing the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,200 workers, “but nobody’s really talking about what a hit the summer lines are going to be taking in all this. Think of all the farmer’s tans. Think of all the fraternity brothers who will have literally nothing to wear as they nihilistically drown themselves in Natural Light. It’s horrifying.”
Still, despite the overwhelming challenges of an angry public and the worst capri pant shortage in over three decades, many retailers remain hopeful.
“It’s not all gloom and doom. You know, Kim Kardashian is pregnant, and the NBA playoffs are heating up, so there’s a pretty good chance people will forget all about this in the next week or so,” said Evangeline Liu, President of Marketing at the Gap, adding hopefully, “Bangladesh is pretty far away.”