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Child Labour

Child labour defined by the UNICEF: “Work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child, type of work. Such work is considered harmful to the child and should, therefore, eliminated“. Defined by ILO Convention. Work children are no doing as they are too young, or – if they are old enough to work – because it is dangerous or otherwise unsuitable for them. Not all work done by children classified as Child labour has been and still is a significant problem in the Textile manufacturing industry.

Nike started outsourcing in the 1990s

Organised child labour work started early1990s when the American footwear giant Nike outsourcing production of sneakers and sweats (sweatshops) to low-cost labour countries such as China. The contractors selected with a cost-cutting mission. Reduce the cost of production. With undoubtedly beneficial contracts for the buyer starts a raw competition among apparel manufacturers to fight for work. Simultaneously officials and the textile production in less-developed country’s contributed with low-cost labour and unethical decisions. Avoid of paying taxes since production moved into toll-free zones, forcing working families to live under miserable conditions, breathes seat-shops and sneakers twenty-four seven. Salary payments low as one US dollar per day is the results of outsourcing. It gave corporations such as Nike an incredible advantage in the marketplace vs its competitors.

Sweatshops, how did it start?

At the same time, the largest jeanswear manufacturer Levi Strauss Co did the opposite, refusing to establish production in China because of the political situation. In the mid-80´s Levi Strauss, Co-owned and operates more than 40 denim Jean’s factories. Many of them placed in the US, UK, and Europe. Many of the factories were only able or constructed to produce 501 jeans because of enormous consumer demands, mainly from Europe during the 1980s and beginning of 1990s.

BB&H Levi 501 Campaigns

The original Levi 501 jeans experienced incredible growth during the 198´s due to marketing agency BB&H smart advertising campaigns. Sales rose 800 per cent yearly. In the mid-1990 came the stagnation, sales decreased as the marketing campaign worn-off. Combined with several other factors made, the jeanswear giant suffers hard. Every brand wanted a share of the denim market, soon low-price and top-end brands introduced models, Levi Strauss caught in the middle.

Attacked by low price and top-end designer brands. And several new marketing concepts took the edge out of Levi Strauss, such as Diesel jeans. Another critical factor was the non-denim trend. Denim was not as hot as a fabric anymore, as youngsters grew an interest in workwear brands with polyester and other technical fabrics as their domains. Levi Strauss Co in economic trouble as the flagship 501 jeans over the decade became more extensive than the brand. When sales of 501 jeans dropped, no products could make up for the losses.

The economic downturn and sales of textile factories

Finally, the financial situation for Levi Strauss Co was unbearable and together with the emerging outsourcing of production to low-cost countries forced the company to change their policies and started selling their factories one by one. Today with only one factory owned and operated in San Francisco, mostly because of the heritage. Factory workers could not benefit from Levi Strauss Co great program due to the downturn, production safety, fire escapes, toilets, regulated working hours and wages vanished.

Outsourcing ugly side

Gone possibility for factory worker’s children attending schools Levi Strauss & Co supported financially, Children participation, health and personal development did not interfere with education is generally regarded positive. Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed and the safety conditions.” Use of child labour worldwide is common in agriculture, mining, manufacturing and domestic services. Even street begging organised by adults, a form of slavery. See corporate accountability Eco-Fashion Encyclopedia.


  • Kenneth Lyngaas. Trend specialist Levi Strauss Co 1994-2001 Levi Strauss Co Europe, Middle East & Africa and United Nations

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