Over at the Bag Snobs a dispute has broken out in the comments about the relative merits of handbags made in Italy versus those made in China. Who would not prefer a handbag lovingly crafted in a sun-dappled Bologna bottega by craftsmen with centuries of tradition at their fingertips?
Reality: European Union regulations are so weak that you only need to put the handle on in Italy and you can claim it's made there. Outside Florence there are whole company towns comprising of nothing but Chinese foreign workers.
The only way tell the quality of a bag is not the label nor the place of manufacture - but to look at it.
Monday, 29 October 2007
How many shoes doth a man need? Three, is the conventional wisdom, and no, flipflops and slippers don't count.
Eammon, writing in the comments box on an earlier post says:
1 pair of newish hi-tech brand trainers
1 pair of normal black leather shoes
and 1 pair of knackered deck shoes that I may have no choice but to replace as summer is virtually upon us
(I believe he lives in Argentina, ie below the Equator.)
It's a firm rule that no man thinks he needs more than three pairs of shoes, while for a woman, the notion of limiting the numbers of shoes she buys is as philistine as placing a ceiling on the numbers of books in her library.
Of course there is always a downside to male multiple shoe ownership: it has the potential to reduce the pairs available to his wife.
Hadley Freeman in today's Guardian writes:
'Now, I thought celebs flogging their own scents was weird enough, but trying to make the rest of the country look like their mini-me's takes the concepts of "self-obsession" and "lack of a sense of personal privacy" to a whole new level. To wit, Kate Moss has designed for Topshop a copy of the dress in which she met Johnny Depp. You can see the thinking here for the prospective customers - "If I wear this dress, Johnny Depp will snog me" - but Kate's mentality is a different matter. Now, the Kate'n'Johnny union is often seen as the Tristan and Isolde coupling of the modern day, but I don't recall the legacy of the latter pairing to be cheap knock-offs on Oxford Circus. And you know, maybe that's why they lived so unhappily ever after.'
Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image | World | The Observer
I have a piece coming out soon in the Guardian which covers these matters. Gap generally has cleaned up its act and developed a very good track record on worker's rights and the supply chain (at least better than many other high street shops.) Was it trying to conceal the use of child labour, or was it the case that its usual supplier subcontracted the work? Interviews on the BBC last night with Gap exceutives indicate that they have called a summit of all their suppliers in the sub-continent.
The Observer report says:
Gap has huge contracts in India, which boasts one of the world's fastest-growing economies. But over the past decade, India has also become the world capital for child labour. According to the UN, child labour contributes an estimated 20 per cent of India's gross national product with 55 million children aged from five to 14 employed across the business and domestic sectors.
'Gap may be one of the best-known fashion brands with a public commitment to social responsibility, but the employment [by subcontractors ultimately supplying major international retail chains] of bonded child slaves as young as 10 in India's illegal sweatshops tells a different story,' says Bhuwan Ribhu, a Delhi lawyer and activist for the Global March Against Child Labour.