Sunday, June 10, 2007

Aren't they generous?

From Scoop

Top established Wellington fashion designers Robyn Mathieson, Ashley Fogel, and Voon will join some of the city’s most promising up-and-coming new design talent to raise money for Wellington Women’s Refuge, on Thursday June 7.

Fashion HQ will showcase Wellington fashion talent at an All-Star fashion auction on June 7. Organised by a team of Massey University public relations students, the auction will feature garments donated by deNada, Paris House and Haley Smith NZ, as well as renowned Wellington designers Fin, Robyn Mathieson, Ashley Fogel and Voon. All proceeds will be donated to Wellington Women’s Refuge.
IThe designers who are so generously donating their garments to a good cause, live off the labour of garment workers. In New Zealand those women would be paid near the minimum wage of $11.25, and when the garments are made off-shore, the women workers are paid much less than that. The people who made the clothes that were donated to Refuge, wouldn't be able to afford to leave an abusive relationship.

I don't want to simplify the dynamics of violent relationships; I don't think pay equity alone would end abuse, but it would make it easier for women to leave. So until they pay the women who make their clothes enough money so that the women would have no financial problems if they needed to leave a violent relationship, those designers are full of shit.

PS - I have lots more I want to write about, but am quite distracted, so I may not be posting much till the end of the week.


  1. Anonymous3:30 pm

    Damn good point!

  2. Anonymous11:03 pm

    I read a paper back in university that said that domestic violence is just as prevalent in higher socio-economic groups as lower ones.

    Given that domestic abuse, particularly emotional abuse, is about control, whether the women is wearing clothes purchased from the designers mentioned or the Warehouse (whose clothes are almost exclusively produced in overseas sweatshops) is in my mind irrelevant. The point is that a woman is getting abused and people doing things to help is something that should be commended.

  3. ex-expat

    I wasn't arguing that poor women were more likely to be abused than rich women. The point I was making was that the poorer you are the harder it is to leave an abusive relationship.

    Incidentally many of those designers do make their clothes in overseas sweatshops, and most of the rest make their clothes in NZ based sweat shops. That's my point. The clothes which are being donated are made in such a way that makes it harder for women to leave abusive relationships, and no amount of glitzy charity auctions will chagne that.

  4. Anonymous3:08 pm

    Just wondering if the womans refuge organisers feel the same way as you. Makes me wonder why people bother to volinteer their time/money etc for the community when they are told that "are full of shit"

  5. It's not as if the designers are getting nothing out of this deal David. I don't see anything wrong with casting a critical eye over the doings of those who donate.

  6. Yeah, it's a bit rich to be claiming to help abused women whilst selling clothes made by... abused women.

    Sweat shops are an abuse of the people stuck in them. It's that simple. If these businesses really cared about people, they would have their garments made in factories that have good labour laws and a fair wage.

  7. Anonymous1:26 pm

    The trouble with the "made by ethical labour" is that people are demonstrably not willing to pay the fair trade premium. To give you some hard numbers, right now a friend is buying plain white made-in-australia t shirts for about $7 each. Screen printing at union rates and minimal compliance with environmental regulations adds about $4/shirt for a simple 3 colour design (assuming 100 shirts). We can get screen printed shirts in multiple styles delivered here for less than that ($5 or less depending on quantity), but they're made in Thailand.

    A quick survey of the market suggests that the unfair shirts are at least 100x as popular as the fair ones.

  8. Fair trade doesn't always cost more though. Think about all those premium brands like Nike that charge a fortune AND use sweatshop labour. I wrote something about fair trade a while back and got a few comments from people giving examples of fair trade products which don't cost a premium: