Last week I wrote about CafePress and their plan to discontinue a tee shirt made by American Apparel, a manufacturer known for its fair labor practices–and substitute a T-shirt made by an unknown source.
In a letter I wrote to them, I pointed out that I offer only sweatshop-free T-shirts. If I can’t determine the source of a shirt, I can’t offer it for sale. I also pointed out that the market for free trade coffee has grown by 75% in the last year. There is no reason the fair trade t-shirt market can’t grow as well.
Monday I received a reply from Director of Merchandise Cindy Clarke. Ms. Clarke writes:
I understand your concerns. CafePress shopkeepers require a broad spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments. Since our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are sourced internationally. Likewise, our product assortment covers both branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand. We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are appropriate for their shops. CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as possible both legally and ethically. We have had several requests like yours for specific and detailed information about our vendors and we are currently investigating how and when we can provide specific information about individual vendors. Once more detailed information is available we will communicate out to the CafePress community. Best wishes, Cindy Clarke Director of Merchandise firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, that’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that CafePress can have something manufactured on the cheap in a sweatshop and hide it behind their “exclusive store label.” The good news is that they are “investigating how and when“, not if, they can provide information about vendors. That would give some real alternatives to those of us who don’t want to sell or wear a t-shirt, however cheap, made possible by inhumane working conditions and child labor.CafePress needs to hear from more people who buy or sell t-shirts. If you have not yet written to CafePress, can you take a couple minutes to drop them an email? If you have a blog, you might consider blogging about it as well.