Huff Po: The deadline to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh passed on Tuesday, and at least 14 major North American retailers declined to participate.
The agreement, which demands a five-year commitment from participating retailers to conduct independent safety inspections of factories and pay up to $500,000 per year toward safety improvements, has seen greater support abroad than in the U.S.
Major European retailers -- for example, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour -- have joined the agreement. Others who've signed on include companies recently involved with factory disasters in Bangladesh, such as Swedish retailer H&M and Italian fashion house Benetton. A 2010 factory fire at a facility that made cardigans for H&M killed 21 people, and Bennetton had a supplier in the Rana Plaza factory that collapsed last month, killing more than 1,100 people.
PVH, parent to Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, signed the accord, along with Abercrombie & Fitch, which agreed just hours before the deadline. That leaves plenty of U.S. retailers absent from the agreement, according to the Worker Rights Consortium, an international labor monitoring group. However, some retailers, like Walmart, claim they are working on separate initiatives to improve conditions and workplace safety in Bangladesh.
Huff Po: Abercrombie and Fitch? More like Abercrombie and Ditch.
The apparel retailer has seen its reputation nosedive over the past two weeks since controversial comments made by its CEO Mike Jeffries resurfaced online, according to brand researcher YouGov BrandIndex.
(In case you missed it, Business Insider published a story that contained comments Jeffries originally made in an interview with Salon in 2006 saying he doesn't want "fat" or "not so cool" kids wearing his company's clothes.)
YouGov's BrandIndex measures positive versus negative feedback about a brand. The chart below illustrates consumer perception among 18 to 34 year olds as compared to American Eagle and H&M.
Jeffries is now doing his best to remedy the situation. He even posted a rebuttal on Facebook saying that his company is “completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior.”
But the mea culpa may not be enough. Many, including Kirstie Alley, have condemned Jeffries' comments. A YouTube video deriding Abercrombie and Fitch’s self-prescribed cool kid image has already reached over 4.5 million views.
A phone call request for comment from Abercrombie and Fitch was not immediately returned Thursday evening.
From Business Insider: Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn't stock XL or XXL sizes in women's clothing because they don't want overweight women wearing their brand.
They want the "cool kids," and they don't consider plus-sized women as being a part of that group.
Abercrombie is sticking to its guns of conventional beauty, even as that standard becomes outdated.
Contrast Abercrombie with H&M, another favorite with the teen set, who just subtly introduced a plus-sized model in its latest swimwear collection.
H&M has a plus-sized line. American Eagle, Abercrombie's biggest competitor, offers up to size XXL for men and women.
Abercrombie doesn't even list women's XL or XXL on its size chart. Its largest women's pants are a size 10, while H&M's standard line goes up to a size 16, and American Eagle offers up to 18.
It's not surprising that Abercrombie excludes plus-sized women considering the attitude of Mike Jeffries, said Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail and CEO of newsletter The Robin Report.
"He doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people," Lewis told Business Insider. "He doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the 'cool kids.'"
We asked the company why it doesn't offer larger sizes for women. A spokeswoman told us that Abercrombie wasn't available to provide a comment.
In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries himself said that his business was built around sex appeal.
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn't bothered by excluding some customers.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
Jeffries said he thinks that including everyone would make his business boring.
"Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either," he told Salon.
Plus-sized is no longer a niche market: 67 percent of the apparel purchasing population fit that label, and the number is growing all the time.
For too long, this sizable and growing segment has been ignored," writes Margaret Bogenrief at ACM Partners. "Treated shabbily, ostracized by the “pro-skinny fashion world,” and seemingly discarded by designers, department stores, and retailers alike, plus-size fashion consumers, critics, and bloggers are taking back their spending and sartorial power and, in turn, changing both the e-commerce and retailing landscapes."
More brands are featuring curvy, "real-sized," models.
In addition to H&M's Jennie Runk, Dove's wildly popular "Real Beauty" campaign highlights women who aren't as thin as traditional models.
But it's unlikely that Abercrombie will ever sway from its image, Lewis told us.
"Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they're about to jump on a surfboard," Lewis said.
Firstly, an update about Sauron, who I have written about before. So, this week, she just walked out, halfway through her shift. The only contact anyone has had with her is a text to another co-worker - which was just this "Spending my time with my mother, feeling epic, never coming back to LebenKuchen!"
Which is fun.
Secondly, Sparrow, he is still employed with us, and this brings me onto a story from last week.
I was working, doing a job at the till, while he was (for once) on fitting room.
Suddenly, he shouts over: "Science Ninja. I need you right now!"
I think to myself "Christ, that boy is so impatient, so finish off what I am doing before heading over. And immediately feel awful.
I get over there, and his hand is covered with blood, and he is looking VERY pale. I ask him what's wrong, and he holds up a swimming costume.
"I picked this up, and there was blood all over it..."
Oh my god, RHU. The smell alone. There was *ahem* menstrual blood all over the crotch of this swimming costume. I tell Sparrow not to move, apologise to him, say I will only be a couple of seconds longer.
I run and get a bag, plus someone to cover fitting room, run back and get him to place the swimming costume in the bag. I then send Sparrow to the washroom, with another employee to open the doors for him, to get the worst of the blood off before sending him to the cleaners, as they have a stronger hand sanitizer for when they have to do icky things.
I grab some Duct tape, tape up the bag, write *BIOHAZARD* on it, before formally writing off the stock to be destroyed.
Sparrow comes back, and I check over his hands for cuts (you can never be too careful); luckily there weren't any but I advised him to go to the doctors to get checked - you never know what this woman might have (having spoken to him this week, he has been checked over and is completely A-OK).
I tell him I have got rid of the swimming costume, and he comes out with this.
"What about the others?"
I double take. "Sparrow, what do you mean the others?!"
He leads me into one of the fitting rooms, which he has left closed (I admit, this was good thinking) and opens it up. There are 8 more swimming costumes in there, not all as covered as the previous but I would say about 6 had blood on them - and fuck off was I taking any chances with the other two...
So, I shut down the entire fitting room (it was pretty quiet at this point, so I sent everyone downstairs), and set about picking these disgusting things off the floor - don't worry, I used gloves - and writing them all off. I then send the cleaners in to thoroughly disinfect the place.
I apologise - but who the fuck does that? Ladies, I know that feminine hygiene commercials tell us frequently that the frequent visit from the Menzies Fairy doesn't have to ruin our life, but honestly, if you can't wait 5 days to try on a swimming costume, or at least wear a pad or something, then you are just horrendous and eurgh. Sorry - I am still appalled by this.
Manager: "Hey, Science Ninja, have you cut the labels off all of those?"
Science Ninja: "Erm, no. I found the same costume to write all the numbers I needed, but I didn't want to go fishing around in them to find the labels - sorry."
Manager: "Well, they aren't properly written off then. You need to cut the labels. Don't you deal with blood in your degree?"
I am sorry - but what the fuck. Yes, a few months ago I dealt with blood on a daily basis - but all the blood donors were medically checked EVERY TIME they donated blood (they tend to be people who's blood can't be used for normal donation), and plus I wear full body protection.
I tell her this, and add that if she wanted to cut the labels, then she could feel free, but there was no way I was.
Also, another bit of weird news I have noticed.
The past 3 weeks, every week we have had one no call/no show. Every week it has been a different person, and every time the next week they come in and nothing is mentioned about it. This week we got another no call/no show. This takes me back to a couple years ago, where Horrid Manager had put me on a shift, and neglected to tell me. I had to get 3 written witness statements of supervisors saying that I never failed to read my schedule, and also proof that I had planned to be somewhere else that day, and that I was there when my shift was, in order to keep my job.
The three no call/no shows - as far as I am aware, haven't had to do this. Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a more lax attitude to working - dare I say it - particularly in the younger generation?
(At risk of causing a flame war - I am in no means saying that every member of the younger generation has this attitude to work, I am in the younger generation myself so I know that isn't true of all of us. Please don't send me hate mail... please?)
May all your items be returned unsoiled...
--The Science Ninja!
Huff Po: On the heels of the recent tragedy in Bangladesh, American Apparel CEO Dov Charney has a message for the rest of the retail industry: It's time for change.
"The apparel industry's relentless and blind pursuit of the lowest possible wages cannot be sustained over time, ethically or fiscally," Charney wrote in a recent message. "As labor and transportation costs increase worldwide, exploitation will not only be morally offensive and dated, it will not even be financially viable."
Charney's message accompanied a company email over the weekend urging people to buy American and reminding them that American Apparel is “sweatshop free." (You can scroll down to see the full email.) This is nothing new: American Apparel always has produced clothes in the U.S. and reminded shoppers of its sweatshop-free pledge on tags, in emails and in ads. But the recent Bangladesh factory collapse that killed more than 600 has brought renewed attention to Western retailers’ reliance on cheap clothing producers they can’t closely monitor.
“We emphasize this because it actually makes a difference,” the company email sent over the weekend states. “Thousands of industrial workers making our clothing at our state-of-the-art factory in downtown Los Angeles earn an average of $12/per hour, plus medical and other comprehensive benefits for themselves and their families, wh
Greetings Curious Scroller,
If you've never landed in this part of cyber space before, you have taken a hard, fast plunge into the fiery depths of work hell. RHU is dedicated to giving the service worker a voice. If you are an angry customer, a corporate suite, a homophobic race-hater, and you don't like skull masks or swear words, this blog isn't for you. Click away now, before your ears bleed and your eyes explode.
I'm Freddy, Crypt Keeper of Retail Hell Underground RHU -- a place for service slaves to have a voice, tell their story, support each other, or just have a chuckle about the insanity of working in the 10th Circle of Hell! I'm also the author of "Retail Hell," the funny memoir about life as a handbag sales associate at an upscale department store! The sequel, "Return To The Big Fancy," has just been released in hardcover and e-reader and is available wherever books are sold!