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Where Am I Wearing Wednesday: Pajamas

(Each Wednesday I’m going to select an item of clothing that I’m wearing and see what I can learn about the brand and country that produce it with a few clicks of the mouse. The point here is that anyone can take 5 minutes to learn about their clothes or other items they purchase.)



It’s neither one hour before bed nor one hour after, and I’m wearing pajamas. I realize that this is totally unacceptable.

Like drinking alcohol before noon, wearing pajamas after noon is a sign that you have a problem.

I have a problem.

Or do I? Maybe it’s these darn social norms, these social sensibilities regarding fashion, that are the problem. Why is it that I can’t be at my most comfortable all the time?

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone just wore pajamas?

Think about it. Folks would be happier because they are more comfortable. Crime would go down because most pajamas don’t have pockets to conceal, say, a switchblade. I was going to say that we would all be more equal without expensive suits and fancy shoes that distinguish the CEO from the bank teller, but, I suppose, expensive silk PJs sewn together with gold thread would become all the rage among the rich.

But if everyone wore pajamas like mine, maybe it could make a difference.

I only know of three professions where it is acceptable to wear pajamas:

1) A pajama model: It’s good work if you can get it.
2) A writer: This is my excuse. Some days I don’t leave the house and my cat Oreo is the only one that sees me. She already thinks that she’s my superior so I really don’t have any ground to lose there anyhow. (A confession: I put on a pair of jeans before my wife gets home so that it looks like I did something.)
3) A garment worker: When you get paid less than $2 per day, who’s going to say anything?

My pajamas were Made in Cambodia. It was in Cambodia that I first saw workers wearing PJ’s to work.

My PJ’s are from the Genuine Sonoma Jean Company. With that said, let’s see what I can learn about them.

1) About the Genuine Sonoma Jean Company

The Genuine Sonoma Jean Company is owned by Kohl’s. While Kohl’s corporate site has some stuff about being green on their front page, some digging is required to find their Terms of Engagement.For the most part, the TOE holds suppliers responsible to their local laws: All Kohl’s Business Partners must operate in full compliance with all applicable local and national laws, rules and regulations pertaining to all aspects of factory operations in the jurisdiction of which they conduct business. Some of their requirements are fairly vague and the language fairly shallow: Subject to the requirements of local law, a regularly scheduled workweek of no more than sixty (60) hours and one day off in every seven (7) day period are encouraged. Let me just say that my dentist encourages me to floss regularly and, though I know I should, I usually don’t until the week or so before my appointment. The TOE also does a few things that I found interesting, including defining child, “Child” is defined as a person who is younger than 15 (or 14 where the law of that country permits) or younger than the age for completing compulsory education in the country where such age is higher than 15.” It also highlights section in bright yellow, giving great importance to a timekeeping system Working hours must be recorded by an automated timekeeping system. Whenever a worker is present in a facility, the worker’s time must be recorded and the worker properly compensated. This applies to both regular and overtime working hours and any time used for work preparations or repairs. In China I heard of workers clocking out and going back to work. I don’t care how high-tech your time keeping system is, you can’t prevent that. You might find the bit about 14-year-olds making your clothes distasteful, but you should keep in mind the context of the country. I visited Cambodia while trying to track down the folks who made my blue jeans. When I was there someone told me that I had to go to the dump. When I did, my perspective changed. Nicholas Kristof, the New York Timescolumnist did a similar thing that’s worth reading. However, I disagree with some of his assertions. This post is getting plenty long so here’s a link to my arguments to Kristof’s piece.

Cambodia happens to be on of the better run garment industries and heavily monitored by the International Labor Organization so it’s doubtful that my PJ’s were made by someone under 18. But you never know. I’m sure a lot of my other clothes were.

2) Kohl’s under fire

Kohl’s, as one of the largest players in the American apparel industry has its fair share of skeleton’s in the closet.
Green America has a Responsible Shopper profile on them. And the Daisy Fuentes line got pulled in 2007 after sweatshop allegations.

3) The Garment Industry in Cambodia

The garment industry accounts for about three-quarters of Cambodia’s exports and the global economic downturn is hitting Cambodia hard. Workers who came from the villages to work in the garment factories because they didn’t have much better options, are losing their jobs. Here are a few recent headlines:
Cambodia’s Garment Workers Hit by Recession, Too

Garment Industry Unravels

See Also

4) Cambodia info

GDP per capita – $1,200. Although I know that most garment workers earn half as much, about $50-$60.
Unemployment (2007, probably much higher now)– 3.5 percent

Population below poverty – 30 percent

5) Be heard

Join me in sending an email to Kohl’s: [email protected] Feel free to use the email I just sent or edit it to fit your concerns.

Dear Kohl’s,

I’m a consumer who realizes that my purchases have environmental and social impacts on the world. I choose to support companies that acknowledge their impact and try to lesson it. I would like to encourage the progress of your Green Scene program and ask for you to list from the countries from which you source.

Also, while searching your website, I didn’t see if any of the factories from which you source were monitored. Are they?

Sincerely,

Kelsey Timmerman
Engaged Consumer

Unfortunately, I have to leave my writer’s cave today, so I better go change out of my pajamas. If you bump into my dentist, tell him that I flossed this morning.

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