How Do I Recognize Sweatshop Clothes?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2019
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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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Post 4

@Iluviaporos - It's such a tough issue, because even clothing sweatshops are better than no jobs at all. And if we all start buying more expensive clothing, we're going to be buying much less of it, which means people will be out of jobs.

There isn't a simple solution and it's going to take time for it to be resolved in a way that helps as many people as possible.

Post 3

@croydon - I agree, but with that said, I think it's a fairly safe assumption that extremely cheap clothing (especially if it's not on sale) was produced by sweatshop labor, especially if it was made in developing countries.

When you take into account the fact that it traveled so far to get into a shop and that someone had to have spent labor on designing it, creating the fabric and making the clothing, then you can see that money had to be cut somewhere to get such a cheap price.

We tend to take ultra-cheap clothes for granted these days, but they have to come from somewhere. And even if the clothes are made in America they often come from illegal sweatshop labor.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you really want to stop these practices you have to put your money where your mouth is.

Post 2

Research is really the most important means of discovering how and where clothing was made. Remember that in some cases what we might think of as sweat shop labor is actually a relatively fair wage and hours for the country where the manufacturer is based. If you decide never to buy clothes made in China, for example, you might end up contributing to people losing their jobs entirely.

If you make a conscious effort to find places that sell sweatshop free clothing from countries that have sweatshops as well, you are helping to encourage more businesses to start paying fair wages, rather than just making them feel like they need to relocate to somewhere else.

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