Sweatshop or cheap shop?

As I gaze down upon my new shoeys, (as we have dubbed them, I don't know what anyone else calls them- cheap Asian shoes made of netting and sequins?....) I can't help but wonder whether my love of two-dollar shops is fueling a sweatshop trade.
I mean, I bought them for $5 a pair, they can't possibly be made for any more than say AUD$1, otherwise there would be no profit margin for the shop selling them, or the exporter, or the maker.

But at the same time as musing over my shopping principals, and whether they are keeping down Aussie industry, I baulk at the thought of paying any more than $5 for them.

How far does a social conscience take you? Should I stop shopping in bargain stores run by immagrants because the items may or may not be produced quite as ethically as they could be?

Whats a girl to do? Would it be worse if I was really into Gucci handbags and paid $600+ for one, when they're probably produced for less than 5% of that?
(sidenote, did you know you buy things called Handbag Hangers? To store and sort your handbags?? Sounds sort of brilliant if you own a lot of bags. That reminds me....still have to sort out my multitude of cheap handbags)

How socially conscience is everyone else when they shop? Am I worrying too much about funding an unjust economic system?

4 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

glenn said...
February 28, 2008 12:24 AM

Hi there,
I know what you mean with this post, I see it everywhere over here.
Over here it's more the norm to see this sort of stuff, but the average person on the street might only be able to afford this price range in their home market. Naturally factories spring up to cater to peoples needs. It's a product of the global market that such things are available in places like Australia. At least you're supporting the people who make these shoes in some way, right? While their working conditions may or may not be what we expect to see, in countries like Malaysia where there isn't any unemployment support system, or government provided healthcare, buying these shoes could provide a meal for someone, somewhere. A lot of brand name stuff is made in the same factories.

Talking about the handbag hangers, check out automatic watch winders like:
http://goshopping.thestar.com/shop/product--catId_1000048__locale_en__productId_3097250.html
.. these are for the discerning automatic watch owner (where the watch is wound by the movement of the wrist). When you have a collection of these expensive watches you don't want them to all wind down while you're not wearing them right? So you buy one of these. They can get huge, wall cabinet size. Amazing.
take care.
G

Eca said...
February 29, 2008 3:32 AM

Whoa, random link!! That is my weird link of the day winner!

Moving on....
I definitely think it's worse if you are paying overinflated prices for things made in sweatshops - the worst case scenario is the bigger companies (like the Nike and other sportshoes scandal of a few years back) using really cheap labour in countries to lower their own costs, (read -exploiting!) rather than buying cheap crap cheaply. I'm not as ethical in this department as I'd like to be yet, as my hip pocket still has a VERY large voice, buying made in Oz stuff is surely a better solution. And no fake Louis Vuitton bags! Real bags are made in exciting places like Italy and France, and fake ones are made in China!
Spending the money would at least give it to someone in a country with decent working conditions! When was the last time you saw a Gucci bag for $600?! I'm usually too afraid to go into their stores (they'll point and laugh, of course!) but we ventured into the LV store in Paris where most were €1000+ (and people were BUYING them too!)

Whew. Rant over! thanks for having me ;P

Reanan said...
March 03, 2008 1:20 PM

Yes it is a problem isn’t it.
The old adage that you get what you pay for seems to ring true.
Your little shoeys are in fact lucky to be worth $1 all up, and I guess frankly yes the only reason that sweat shops are still in existence is because consumers keep purchasing things at a constantly discount price.

But when buying something from the $2 packapoo ticket (does anyone remember that shop?) store you know what you're getting, indeed as opposed to the infamous Nike but it is happening everywhere with everything you buy, clothes, shoes, ipods apparently (http://www.boingboing.net/2006/06/12/inside-chinas-ipod-s.html)
How are we to know if the manufacture is legitimate? I suppose the answer is legislation...
One of my pet hates is going into Tree of Life and being faced with a $50 price tag for a light summery dress that was made in India for what 80cents? We know its not worth it!

Eca said...
March 11, 2008 4:37 AM

And said dress always loses its colour in 2 seconds and then proceeds to fall apart rapidly following its first wash...

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