Thursday, November 15, 2007

From last week's LEO:

The outsourcing Gap
Planning to head out to The Summit to hit up Baby Gap for a pair of faux-shearling booties or a tartan aviator hat for the darling newborn in your life? Nah, me neither. But if we were planning such an adventure, it might be worth noting that Baby Gap has been caught using child slave labor — and we’re not talking about Internet rumors that Suri Cruise has inked a million-dollar Baby Gap modeling contract.

Last week, an Observer (UK) journalist described appalling conditions endured by children forced into labor by a Gap vendor in India. The Gap is now in full-blown damage-control mode. The retail giant — 3,000 stores and $16 billion annual revenue — has recalled all merchandise from the vendor and pledged to tighten up its supply chain to ensure children aren’t involved in the manufacture of its clothing. The incident comes in the midst of a campaign to support U2 star Bono’s “Red” products, which fight AIDS in Africa, and other high-profile efforts to improve The Gap’s ’90s-era image as a company that exploits children.

If you’re not convinced of The Gap’s good intentions, you could take your fashion dollars to Old Navy or Banana Republic. Er, um, but guess who owns them: The Gap. In fact, next time you buy a handmade anything for under $50 from outsourcing corporate America, you have to wonder if a third-world child’s sweat touched it before you did.

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