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Knowmore Entry: American Apparel, LLC
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PatrickBateman



Joined: 09 Aug 2003
Posts: 2276
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Knowmore Entry: American Apparel, LLC  Reply with quote  

Let me preface the following by letting you know that I utilize Knowmore.org in almost all of my dealings with major corporations. This is probably the reason why I feel so offended. There's a few things I'm upset about this morning, the Knowmore Entry on American Apparel is one of them. I just don't understand. From what I can gather (keeping in mind that the rating system is still in elementary phases that're not to be taken as the final word) the jist of the American Apparel entry is a pretty much a big thumbs down. The photo's alone make this feeling very adamant.

I have two knowmore shirts. I like the way that the two party system shirt fits and feels better then the original knowmore. So this morning I checked the tag because I plan on printing out some sweeeeet tree shirts shortly and wanted to use shirts with the same material. "American Apparel", right there on the tag. I felt stupid. Is there something I'm missing here? Is it worth it to patronize one of your earliest adversaries to save money that will be spent doing research on the likes of their kind? I definetely hesitated to use the word adversary, but that's just the feeling I get from the artical. I'm by NO means going to stop using/supporting Knowmore.org, but I would like to know what I'm missing.


Last edited by PatrickBateman on Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:46 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:41 am
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redball



Joined: 12 May 2006
Posts: 6871
Location: Northern New Jersey
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I think you took the AA article a bit wrong. It basically says that AA is one of the better larger firms in the textile industry, but far from a perfect company. There are complaints, there probably has been some union busting, and the working conditions are far from the best in the nation. Sexual harassment is a problem in the company. However, people are paid okay wages and your threads weren't made by an 8 year old Chinese girl.

I think the other important thing to realize is that much of this investigation was done after the decision to print Knowmore logos on AA shirts was made. I believe that the initial investigation was made in large part due to that very decision.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:51 am
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erich



Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 3048
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yeah, i read it and kind of had a simliar feeling. but looking at the article again, they're definately not pulling any punches or doing dov any favors, but all in all it looks like knowmore acknowledges that in many ways aa is on the up and up.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:54 am
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PatrickBateman



Joined: 09 Aug 2003
Posts: 2276
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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I completely agree with you guys, that's why this thread is about my confusion and not an attack on Knowmore's integrity.

Why, (if AA seems to be doing so well under at least half of Knowmores categories) is a closeup photograph of a young crotch being used as the headlining photograph?

Let me quote "This company has received a negative rating."

If I'm an active Knowmore.org user, I'm going to take that statement seriously because, to a certain extent, I've made the decision to trust Bernard's articles. The reaction that comes hand in hand with trusting the article would, for me, be to avoid patronizing the corporation until further notice. Thus the sheepish feeling I got when I saw American Apparel on my knowmore shirt.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:22 am
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b. dolan
FBI agent


Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 5700
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well... here's the thing. we were just about mid way done with that article when we needed to order blank shirts for the one party system shirt.

who we buy our t-shirts from is a difficult thing that i've personally been wrestling with since we opened the site. and in fact that's what lead me to doing the whole knowmore entry in the first place: we first used american apparel, then heard nasty shit about them, then switched to no sweat while we researched them, and then switched back to american apparel like i said for the (new design) one party system sweats and tees.

here's why:

- i still haven't found, what i'm looking forrrrr. that said:

- the mildly benevolent devil i know is better than the devil i don't right now. when faced with the personal decision of who to get t-shirts from, i chose american apparel for the time being, pending my discovery of a more ethical t-shirt company.

i've actually considered making some kind of documentary, or writing some kind of book about the subject, actually. i have yet to find a t-shirt company that satisfies me totally in an ethical sense. and there is currently *no such thing* as a fair trade t-shirt. in fact, i don't think the people that certify such things are even within a few years of being able to certify any garment as "fair trade", so basically it's every consumer for themselves till then, unless knowmore.org discovers some miracle shit, which I don't think we will.

to certify coffee as free trade you just need to independently monitor 4 or 5 steps, and make sure its all cruelty free. the production of a garment, however, is like a 20-30 step process, usually spanning multiple countries. so even if the sewers and cutters in the factory are independently monitored, if the cotton being used was picked in Uzbekistan (the #3 or #4 supplier of cotton in the world) it was almost definately picked under forced or child labor. so it's a huge chain to independently monitor, and the independent monitors can't agree on shit right now, and are only in the really beginning stages of getting their shit together (and thats generous). so there is no easy answer to ethical clothes.

back to our knowmore shirts: mid article, i also realized that No Sweat t-shirts are made by UNITE! i looked at the tag on one of the No Sweat shirts, just as I'm finding out all this crazy shit about that union, and sure enough Unite's name is there.

i also met and interviewed some high ups at No Sweat in the course of the research, and was totally unsatisfied with their answers regarding how their workers are treated.

it's complicated, and i still am waiting to do a more in depth entry on them, but basically No Sweat has no direct contact with most of the workers who make their t-shirts. It's not like fruit of the loom or AA where the management is in the same building as the workers, or is even in direct control of them. No Sweat just relies on UNITE to make sure everythings ok, and gets its products wholesale from a bunch of warehouses all over the world. So in many cases, No Sweat is just taking UNITE's word for it.

This finally bit No Sweat in the ass last year:

* A recent independent monitoring team report raised serious concerns regarding the nature of the union at the PT Bata factory in Indonesia, which produces the No Sweat sneaker; Sweatshop Watch has advised consumers that No Sweat sneakers are "not necessarily made by workers represented by a democratic union."

oh, woops! you mean UNITE isn't fool proof? you mean No Sweat sneakers were made in sweatshops in indonesia? right on.

So here was my thinking at the time of the order:

I know American Apparel does some good shit, for a fact. I know their workers on the factory floor are making good money and being treated properly. I've met and talked with them and I have a good solid feeling about what their doing for their workers. I know they do good shit for the environment and community and by supporting these clothes I'm supporting some progressive values, even though mixed in with that is crazy ass Dov Charney and all that follows.

So, for that snapshot in time, I chose AA. I'm still looking for a better alternative all the time, but a lot of the co-ops and shit can't handle our size / color requirements, or make just plain shitty clothes that I wouldn't want to sell... it's a rock and a hard place man. I dunno. But I was just as much (if not more) horrified by what I learned about UNITE in that article as I was about AA. So that was my choice.

that was rambling... first thing in the morning... but hopefully that explained something.

edit: yeah, AA has a negative rating on knowmore, indicating "areas of concern"... but, i don't think you'll find a garment company profiled on knowmore with a better rating either. they're far from great, but i haven't found a better one yet, sadly.


Last edited by b. dolan on Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:44 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:32 am
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PatrickBateman



Joined: 09 Aug 2003
Posts: 2276
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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b. dolan wrote:

- the devil i know is better than the devil i don't right now.



That's pretty much what I was looking for. I'm glad I asked about this because I was actually planning on placing an order with No Sweats. They're local.


That being said, maybe the article should be speaking a different language to your "glance over" audience (which I'm sure makes up a decent precentage of readers). I reeeaaally don't want to try and tell you what to do, I have a great deal of respect for you, and what your doing. I'm just concerned that the article will backfire by sending consumers into the hands of people they have less dirt on. Thank you for the lengthy explanation, I was definetely worked up about it this morning.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:43 am
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MP3D
Straaaange FAMOUS!


Joined: 28 Apr 2005
Posts: 2621
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you should get chris martin to wear a knowmore shirt on tour. i'm willing to bet he would be down.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:53 am
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The Mean Eagle



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Posts: 532
Location: san diego
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a suggestion for a t shirt company. Patagonia.. I worked for them for a while and they were great,I'd still work there if I never moved.Health bennefits the day your hired, tons of great things there. Paid days off to go snowboarding, surfing, hiking.. 'Field days'.. Also if you volenteer for a non prophet enviormental program they will pay your salary for 3 months
here's a link to thier organic cotton products.
http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2077
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:51 pm
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Emancipator



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 846
Location: portland
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The Mean Eagle wrote:
a non prophet enviormental program
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:23 pm
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breakreep
homophobic yet curious


Joined: 27 Sep 2004
Posts: 6627
Location: Fifth Jerusalem
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The Mean Eagle wrote:
Also if you volenteer for a non prophet internet message board they will pay your salary for 3 months



Fixed.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:27 pm
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firefly



Joined: 27 Sep 2002
Posts: 3990
Location: Montreal
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What's wrong with fruit of the loom?

To me using AA to make the shirts for knowmore makes you look like a hypocrite. Wack.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:39 pm
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tom inhaler
me too!


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 4398
Location: providence
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firefly wrote:
wah wah wah wah wah


whambulance
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:46 pm
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firefly



Joined: 27 Sep 2002
Posts: 3990
Location: Montreal
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So me calling Bernard a hypocrite is "whambulance" worthy? hahah okay . . .
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:49 pm
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PatrickBateman



Joined: 09 Aug 2003
Posts: 2276
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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firefly wrote:
What's wrong with fruit of the loom?

To me using AA to make the shirts for knowmore makes you look like a hypocrite. Wack.


did you not read the thread?
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:57 pm
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firefly



Joined: 27 Sep 2002
Posts: 3990
Location: Montreal
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PatrickBateman wrote:
firefly wrote:
What's wrong with fruit of the loom?

To me using AA to make the shirts for knowmore makes you look like a hypocrite. Wack.


did you not read the thread?


Of course. It didn't mention anything about Fruit of the Loom though. I was seriously inquiring about them and i'm sure that there must be a more ethical company then AA. But maybe the price wasn't right? :shrugs:

It's weird how people see different things in the AA article. I found that it cleared a lot up but as many points were made for them there were equal amount of points made against them. It seems incredibly hypicrital and unethical to be supporting them. That's just my opinion, the decision is obviously up to the people at knowmore.

I personally will not buy anything with a AA tag on it. And i'm glad you brought this up because I was planning on buying some knowmore gear for x-mas presents. I might still pick up the shoping bad though.
Post Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:08 pm
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