When I made the decision to change the blank t-shirts that I use for MotherTongues back in 2005, the choice was to use “Made in the USA” t-shirts, or fair trade t-shirts, or organic cotton t-shirts, or a combination of these 3. Since the ethos of MotherTongues is caring about social justice issues and the environment, I decided to use fair trade, organic cotton t-shirts. Part of the reason I didn’t want to use Made in the USA t-shirts, was that I know American Apparel is the company of choice for people who want sweatshop-free t-shirts. But I really can’t stand the advertising used by American Apparel. I know that they do a lot of really good things: paying their workers a fair wage, making a lot of sustainable clothing, but what about the explicit ads, the non-union workers, the lawsuits against Dov Charney? And yesterday it became news that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement found 1600 workers at the American Apparel factory in LA to be undocumented, i.e. not having permission to work.
I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind hiring illegal workers. Is it to be able to pay the workers less than if you hire legal workers? Or are you trying to help immigrants? I guess until I understand the issues behind American Apparel better (and they change their ads), I won’t be buying their t-shirts.