Has anyone really thought about where Abercrombie’s clothes come from? Sure, people know that factories make the fabric and other factories turn them into shirts. Later, they’ll appear on hangers in dark stores blasting music with hefty price tags of over fifty dollars. Most people shop themselves into oblivion, unaware of what really happens “behind the scenes.”
According to Compassion International, one in six children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labor throughout the world today. Although numbers may not appeal to anybody’s sense of morality, hopefully the image of a six-year old sitting next to a sewing machine wiping sweat and dirt off of his forehead with a bruised arm instead of at a desk learning the times tables will help you put down the shirt in your hand.
Take the Alta Mode factory in the Philippines, once a major producer for Abercrombie and Fitch. The factory is crawling with children working in dank, rat-infested areas with rusty machines bigger than they are. From early in the morning to very late at night, children sit on hard benches with sparse meals of stale bread and dirty water, working under barely one bulb of light.
The International Labour Organization defines child labor as a minor employed in a business or industry and being paid little to nothing, almost similar to slavery. It can cause critical problems to a child’s mental and physical health and growth and tear families apart. According to The Child Labor Education Project, in the long term, a child can end up dropping out of school, having sleep and additional health problems, and even underdevelopment of their body and brain.
The use of child labor goes completely against Abercrombie and Fitch’s Code of Conduct, which requires its factories to follow a set of rules, including a paragraph about child labor: “Abercrombie will not tolerate the use of child labor by its vendors.” It later states the standards of health and safety that their factories must comply with. However, the many instances of violations found linked to Abercrombie, as stated in the IHS article on Child Labor, such as living quarters infested with rodents, broken toilets, and no access to clean drinking water, have followed none of such requirements, leaving innocent children to be deprived of their childhood.
Abercrombie’s attitude toward child labor is enough to repel many people from the store. However, the business continues to thrive despite the many immoralities that have occurred. But why does Abercrombie deserve any business at all? How can you proudly wear the moose symbol across your chest when children slave away each day for hours, earning only a few cents?
There are many ways for Abercrombie to right itself. They can start by removing all factories that involve children in the process of making the clothes and then help improve living and working conditions in those factories. They need to use their money toward something beneficiary, not to increase the boss’s already inflated salary.
To you, the shoppers: By resisting the urge to walk into Abercrombie, you are speaking volumes for those who can’t say anything. You are simply stating that you won’t support the immoralities they are involved with, helping to stop child labor, one store at a time.
And now you know where the moose really comes from.