The Bias Cut: On Clothing and Ethics by Hobo Scumbag

If you are a fan of fashion and unethical behavior, this must be an exciting time for you! Long before Kellyanne Conway was plugging Trump fashion brands while in her capacity as White House Senior Adviser, and the origins of Make America Great Again hat-materials were discovered to be likely not-American, major retailers like Zara and Forever21 were very obviously stealing designs and prints from independent artists and not having to pay the appropriate proprietors.

This week’s recent story about Ivanka Trump’s fashion line which was relabeled and sold as Adrienne Vittadini clothing by umbrella-manufacturer G-III highlights the sketchy intellectual property-line-blurring phenomena that the fashion industry is known and loved for. Indeed, where would we be without copyright infringement and cannibalistic, inhumane practices that allow us to look cool-and-collected on a dime?

Somewhere, feeling poor, is the correct answer.

The smoking gun in question, as highlighted by Lauren Sherman at The Business of Fashion, is a medium-shot of two pleated-collar blouses of different colors hanging side-by-side on what looks like a fitting-room door:

 

Credit: Business of Fashion
An Ivanka Trump blouse (left) and a blouse relabeled as Adrienne Vittadini Studio (right). Credit: Business of Fashion

Commenting on the Ivanka-Adrienne switcheroo, professor of fashion law at Fordham Law School and founder of the Fashion Law Institute Susan Scafidi tells Business of Fashion, “US textile product labelling laws allow substitution of labels, so long as the entity making the substitution is identified on the new label…”

So maybe it is not fraud, not even a little bit.

But the two blouses above represent what Americans have been trying to make invisible for a very long time. And we don’t like seeing things we’re trying not to see. It makes us feel powerless, duped, even, god forbid, stupid! Those two blouses are fraternal twins separated at birth, reunited by accident and in their collision are now colluding to taunt us with what we don’t know.

Like her father, Ivanka Trump has a history of zero-transparency, which, in retrospect and also, again, like her father, should have been all we needed to make a decision on what they each stand for. Project Just reports that her brand has never disclosed a supplier code-of-conduct nor its environmental impact, and has never made explicit that it can trace its entire supply chain. Fashion Revolution measures fashion brands using a transparency ratings methodology, and their correspondent Cary Somers writes, “Ivanka Trump’s brand would have scored 0%. Her website discloses no information at all. Nothing.”

When Donald Trump was confronted with the MAGA hat scandal by the AP, he said he was unsure whether Americans with his red and white hats ever checked the labels or even cared. “I don’t know if they know,” he claimed.

Of course he doesn’t. As with all alternative factoids and post-truths, it is best to not know a thing, and barring that, pretend to not know, and pretty much just leave it at that.

 

Hobo Scumbag is a native of Southern California. Find her at hoboscumbag.com.