“The workers no longer exist here”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Washington Post published an expose of the Ivanka Trump clothing line clearly demonstrating that even when compared to the greater fashion industry, the Trump brand is out of step with modern labor and business practices.

While the industry increasingly turns to independent monitors to observe conditions in their factories, the Trump brand apparently relies on self-policing.

From big brands such as Adidas and Kenneth Cole to smaller, newer players like California-based Everlane, many U.S. clothing companies have in recent years made protecting factory workers abroad a priority — hiring independent auditors to monitor labor conditions, pressing factory owners to make improvements and providing consumers with details about the overseas facilities where their goods are produced.

But the Trump brand has taken a more hands-off approach. Although executives say they have a code of conduct that prohibits physical abuse and child labor, the company relies on its suppliers to abide by the policy.

Working conditions and compensation at even the most high profile foreign factories probably isn't as good as it should be even if the Trump brand stands out among the rest as a particular bad actor.

It's not clear to me to what extent anyone can be truly proud about the source of their clothing even if it was made here in the US, but that's what the Trump brand or at least the Trump political brand has promised, isn't it?

Donald Trump has boasted many times that we're going to "make America great again" by manufacturing things in America again, but we're not. We're not going to start making clothes here again, unless its done by robots, and the top executive of the Ivanka Trump brand apparently agrees.

Trump brand executive Abigail Klem candidly told the Washington Post that we don't even have the capacity to manufacture various clothing items here.

Klem, the Trump brand president, said the company is exploring ways to produce some goods in the United States but that “to do it at a large scale is currently not possible.

Klem spoke to The Post in the fashion line’s offices on the 23rd floor of Trump Tower, three floors below the headquarters of the Trump Organization. On a table next to her lay a copy of a 2016 Business of Fashion report, “Unravelling the Myth of ‘Made in America.’ ”

The workers no longer exist here or only in very small, small capacity; the machinery in many instances does not exist here,” Klem said. “It is a very complex problem.

Yes, it is a very complex problem.

Donald Trump may not know it (this depends on just stupid you believe he is), but Ivanka does. The braintrust currently running the Trump family's brands knows it. The only people buying Trump's "made it America" talk and tough stance on foreign trade are people who understand neither.

Unless Americans are willing to give up their imported products and literally face empty store shelves and tight supply, Trump's dream of a trade war is not going to turn out the way anyone on the left or right believes it will. We are not going to suddenly leap into action and begin mass producing Nike shoes or iPhones in the Rust Belt which does not even have the capacity in technology or manpower to do so.

For perspective, the company that manufactures the iPhone, Foxconn, has over 1 million employees with 100,000 lines of production. Hundreds of thousands of their employees build nothing but phones. We'll never duplicate that here.

Some people say the Trump brand should move their production here to live up to Trump Sr's rhetoric and promises, but I think he should drop the bullshit and level with people. Stop feeding them a fantasy.

  • muselet

    A Trump defying industry best practices?

    Who could possibly have imagined?


  • ninjaf

    Those boot-strap-grabbing, unemployed coal miners who voted for Trump need to get their hind ends to the gulf coast and find themselves a job.

  • Ellen Kuhlmann

    This has long been a dream of Democrats and some Independents, that if you just level with people, explain the complexity, they will make good choices. But that doesn’t work for the type of person who gravitates towards leaders like Trump. They want the quick fix, the snappy slogan, the impossible to be true. And they fall for it time after time.

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    Stop feeding them a fantasy.

    I bet Trump could have promised to make everyone who votes for him a 1%-er. And they’d have voted for him in a landslide.

    Anyone pointing out that we can’t all be 1%-ers, or questioning how he thinks such a thing is possible, is fake news.

    No, the problem isn’t that the leadership is feeding their base bullshit. The problem is that their base is demanding and then credulously consuming that bullshit. There will always be snake oil salesmen – but we, as a society, need to be better about ignoring their bullshit.

    The majority of Trump’s voters are a bunch of fucking children. It’s that simple. They don’t care about reality – they just want the comforting lie and the short-term “win.”

    • Aynwrong

      I’d like to say that having a better press would help but how could it if so many people are unable or unwilling to be informed citizens?

      I still naively believe that going out of your way to be at least somewhat well informed is a requirement if one wishes to regard themselves as a patriot. I don’t mean earning a doctorate in a particular field. I mean simply finding trustworthy news sources while engaging in a modicum of critical thinking. But Chris Mathews and others tell me that is culturally elite coastal ivory tower snobby thinking with a mocha choca latte on the side (It seems to always involve a latte).