The Trump-China ties that bind. Both Daddy Donald and Daughter Ivanka have grabbed the chance to get their cheap China labor on to support their respective “fashion” and shoe collections. All the while adding ethical insult to cultural injury in the process. Crimes against fashion, logical reasoning and grounds of argumentation aside, one wonders… Should cost ever trump style?
Once upon a time, the Republican candidate took his vision on fashion and created the Donald J. Trump Collection, the self-proclaimed pinnacle of style and prestige. Produced in China.
Donald Trump has long been hotly bothered by the Middle Kingdom, especially in regards to China’s manipulation of its currency, the renminbi, the nation’s trade policies and the loss of American jobs due to China’s cheaper production costs. Despite the renminbi officially being declared as “no longer undervalued” as of March 2015, Trump likes to bring it up. A lot. He blames cheap Chinese products for “stock market turmoil in the United States and for robbing American workers of jobs because domestic companies can’t sell enough goods.” Thank you, Investopedia. Nevertheless, it seems the call of cheap labor is one far too sweet, after all.
Once upon a time, the Republican candidate took his vision on fashion and brought it to full fruition through his Donald J. Trump Collection, the self-proclaimed pinnacle of style and prestige. Now, as far as the Trump menswear collection itself goes… I’d bring up the 1980s and their narcissistic American Psycho yuppie-styled clothing-sense-meets-hairdos-and-facials, but my democratic self just doesn’t do the running joke. The Trump collections consist of men’s dress shirts, suits, ties and accessories. “All of which,” as CNN so kindly pointed out in May of this year, “have been made by factories overseas, where labor costs are a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S.”
The call of the mighty cheap East has also seduced that hot piece of Appfle Strudel aka eldest daughter Ivanka like a Russian billionaire to London real estate.
Trump may claim to have the backs of U.S. workers, but when it comes to making the shirts for those backs, the mogul has chosen to get them done and dusted overseas. His overall campaign rhetoric starkly contrasts the practices of his own fashion business, “which experts say has followed the path of many other clothing makers by jumping from country to country [including China] in search of the lowest wages and cheapest production costs,” CNN continued. Regarding, for example, the male accessories on Donald shelves, Trump told CNN that “his ties were manufactured in China because they have manipulated their currency to such a point that it’s impossible for our companies to compete.” Rightio. The Trump ties with China are strong, indeed.
The call of the mighty cheap East, not only attracted the Pater Familias’ menswear collection like a Trump to a beauty queen, but has also seduced that hot piece of Appfle Strudel aka eldest daughter Ivanka like a Russian billionaire to London real estate. “Some 130,000 pounds of Ivanka shoes bearing her name have been produced at the Xuankai Footwear Ltd. Factory located in the Houjie area of Dongguan [China’s Pearl River Delta area],” Racked on October 12 reports. Xuankai is currently under investigation for illegal overtime rates, witholding wages for up to eight weeks, working hours exceeding the legal limit, and so the list of allegations goes on. Racked reporter Spencer Woodman jetted off to Dongguan to find out the exact fit of the shoe:
“Interviews with Xuankai workers were conducted during visits to more than a half-dozen factories that have produced products for Donald and Ivanka Trump in several cities along the east coast of China. The workers I spoke with at these factories described conditions that varied significantly between facilities. In contrast to Xuankai, workers at two other factories that produced for Ivanka Trump — a shoe facility run by the Huajian Group contracted through [shoe designer] Marc Fisher and a garment factory called Hangzhou HS Fashion connected to Ivanka Trump through apparel intermediary G-III — described broad satisfaction with their employers. And, at four factories in the town of Shengzhou that produced for Donald Trump’s brand, no legal violations were alleged. Xuankai was different. Workers there told me that they were generally given only two days of rest per month and commonly worked 12-hour shifts, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with two one-hour meal breaks. A former employee surnamed Tian — who had quit the factory just days before, but still carried his Xuankai badge — said that in his months at the factory, he would sometimes have to work from 8 AM until 1 or 2 the following morning, with two hours of breaks during the long shifts.”
That’s one bad egg down, with a rather pickled one to go. Woodman in the report as cited above already mentions the Huajian Group, another one of the Ivanka Trump shoe brand production partners. President of this major footwear producer Zhang Huarong announced on October 8,that his company is now moving production to Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa since labor there is even cheaper: Five Ethiopians for the price of one Chinese. Zhang is one of a steadily increasing number of Chinese manufacturers who are moving their production to Africa and Southeast Asia in search of ever-slashed production costs. As far as “the Chinese robbing American workers of jobs because domestic companies can’t sell enough goods” goes, Zhang added that the kind of work that goes into making such products may never return to America. Full stop.
Trump has always defended his family’s decision to license their image and name to companies that manufacture the goods in China as the smart business thing to do.
“The Huajian-manufactured Ivanka shoes are merely a fraction of the more than 1,200 shipments of Trump-branded products that have flowed into the U.S. from China and Hong Kong over the last decade,” according to an examination of U.S. import data by Our Principles PAC — an (admittedly) anti-Trump political action committee formed in January of 2016. Truth is that the manufacturing process of the products calls for multiple party involvement and thus creates a full-on ménage-à-trois (well, at least Howard Stern would crack a smile). Trump always defends his family’s decision to license their image and name to companies that manufacture the goods in China as the smart business thing to do. All the while slamming other U.S. firms, in which he has invested nonetheless, such as Ford and Nabisco for offshoring. And now, the non-ethical Trump footprint too looks set to expand onto new continents.
The Trump Campaign has not yet responded to any questions raised on the topic, whilst Ivanka Trump’s company has thus far declined to comment. Enter “shocked” emoticon.
Whichever way the comb-over flows, with the end of cheap China labor significantly in sight, it may be high time for the Trump family to just call it a fashionable day, pack up those ties and been-around-the-block shoes bearing the sweet smell of non-sustainability and go have some nice hot cocoa and a Mexico-produced Oreo — or a nice slice of American apple pie.
At the end of the race, one can put a golden plaque on a tower, drag around Gucci luggage, grab the (overseas-produced) designer clothes off the racks (and women), wear the Swarovski-encrusted heels or acquire a whole new set of T&A, yet … Style is not for sale. Style does not come at a cost. Style trumps money.
Featured Image: Ivanka Trump for Harper’s Bazaar.