How Do I Recognize Sweatshop Clothes?

One can research companies before buying clothing from them.
There are many consumer guides available to inform people of companies that use sweatshop labor.
To safeguard against buying sweatshop clothes, look out for labels that are associated with the practice.
Sweatshop clothing is more commonly found at high-end retailers.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2014
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A sweatshop is a factory where laborers work long hours in abysmal conditions for very little compensation. This term is mostly used to describe garment factories. You may be able to recognize sweatshop clothes by looking at the labels that are affixed to them, but these can be a bit misleading. Before buying garments, you can also research the company that makes the clothing. If it is a small shop selling the clothing, ask where the clothing was made.

One of the easiest ways to recognize sweatshop clothes is by looking at the label. This label is usually located on the inside of the shirt, and it may either be sewed in or painted right onto the fabric. All clothing sold in the United States must have a label that tells consumers where the clothing was made.

Look for underdeveloped or developing nations mentioned on the clothing label when trying to recognize sweatshop clothes. The label will usually say something like “made in,” followed by the name of the place where the garment was manufactured. Individuals in underdeveloped nations with poor worker-safety laws are typically more likely to work in undesirable conditions for little compensation.


This is not always the best way to recognize sweatshop made clothing. Not all factories in underdeveloped nations are sweatshops. Also, a few sweatshops may still exist in more developed nations. For example, clothing that was made in the United States may have been made in some of the less-developed US territories. These territories are more likely to have sweatshops.

You can also look for an indication that a garment was made in a unionized factory. Unions help laborers receive fair pay for their work. They also help regulate safe working conditions and realistic hours. Clothing that is union-made is most likely not made in a sweatshop. Some shady and immoral clothing manufacturers, however, have been known to add phony union labels to some of their garments.

Researching a company is one of the best ways to find out if it produces sweatshop clothes. This is usually easiest with the major clothing brands. An Internet search of a particular company should give you all of the information that you need. Since sweatshop awareness has become a big issue, many clothing manufacturers have begun to publicize information about their garment factories. If a company uses sweatshops to produce clothing, you will also usually be able to find a news story.

Another way to recognize sweatshop clothes is by asking. This is especially true for small, local shops. If you are unsure about a particular small clothing company, ask the owners of the company where the clothes were made. Also, ask about the working conditions. Individuals who are not forthcoming with this information may be producing sweatshop clothes.


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