The Kardashians and Sweatshop Labor–Are they REALLY that Ignorant?

Update 12/23/11: Kris Jenner is now suing Star for libel. The Kardashian matriarch is also planning on suing the The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. This is getting pretty heated…

Update 12/21/11: Charles Kernhagen now claims that Star magazine (where Radar got their information from) has taken his quotes out of context and that he was talking about 75% of the factories in the Guangdong province, not necessarily the factory where the various Kardashian fashion lines are created. Additionally, Kris Jenner and her business partner, Robert Shapiro, released a statement to TMZ saying that the factory where the clothes are made are “strictly policed,” and do not violate any child labor or human rights laws. Whether or not there is truth to either story, I feel this discussion is still important, especially in the wake of the  allegations of child labor being used to obtain organic cotton for a line of Victoria’s Secret underwear. If something bears your name, wouldn’t you want to research your manufacturing methods before making a business agreement? 


Radar Online has broken the news that the Kardashian fashion empire is guilty of using slave labor to produce their merchandise. According to the website, the fashionable family is being investigated by a human rights organization due to their use of sweatshop workers in the Guangdong province of China. The workers are believed to work up to eighty-four hours in a seven day workweek to produce the Sears-exclusive line (as well as other Kardashian endorsed lines such as the Kris Jenner Collection and that helped the family earn a cool $65 million last year. The workers make roughly $1 per hour, are not allowed to listen to music, or even stretch in the often 100 degree plus temperatures. According to Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights,  “The Kardashians are in bed with some pretty bad people. Not only are [they] taking advantage of these workers, they are holding hands with a government that spits on democracy and women’s rights.”

My question is, are the Kardashians and other celebrity designers really that unaware and that heartless that they would use such awful methods to create their clothing? Are they so desperate for a profit that they would resort to exploiting people who believe that they need to work in such awful conditions to provide for themselves and their families? I really don’t get it, especially after the Kathie Lee Gifford scandal in the mid-nineties. Gifford, who sold her clothes exclusively at Wal*Mart, claimed that she was unaware of how the clothes bearing her name were produced, that she was not involved in that aspect of the business. This angered people–if you’re going to put a product with your name on it, wouldn’t you want to make sure that the people involved are taking the steps to make sure that other people aren’t being endangered just so YOU can make more money on top of your TV hosting gig? Or, in the case of the Kardashians, your reality shows/nail polish collection/perfume/personal appearances/books/magazine stories/etc.? There are young women and girls who do look up to the family, who see them as entrepreneurs and fashion icons. So, are they really greedy or just ignorant? Remember, this isn’t the first time the Kardashians have put their name on an inferior, poorly researched product–last year, the Kardashian Kard was released. Unbeknownst to the family, the pre-paid card was riddled with hidden fees and finance charges, causing consumers to be angry and the card to be pulled from rotation.

LivLunatics, again–are the Kardashians (and other celebrities, as Mel “Scary Spice” B. and Carmen Electra have also been named in the investigation) greedy or ignorant? What do you think is a good way to eliminate or improve labor conditions?

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