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H&M Might Raise Prices: the Retail Giant Pledges to Increase Wages for Factory Workers

Image: Facebook/HM

Image: Facebook/HM

H&M has pledged to raise the wages of 850,000 textile workers by 2018. The company's head of sustainability, Helena Helmersson, told the AFP on Monday that it "might be a possibility" that higher labor costs would result in a price-hike long term, but insisted that prices would remain stable in the near future. The company has also announced a plan to lobby the Bangladeshi government to raise the minimum wage and institute annual reviews. (H&M is the largest buyer of clothes in Bangladesh.)

In an interview posted to H&M's corporate blog, Helmersson argues that retail prices don't necessarily correlate to production costs:

"Many people seem to believe that low prices are automatically related to bad working conditions and low wages. In fact, today, many garments are produced in low cost countries, regardless of their sales price. The truth is that the price of a garment does not tell us much about how it is produced. We share many of our suppliers with a lot of other brands. Wages for the workers are the same no matter which brand’s order they work on."

That's an important point. In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Armani, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss have all outsourced manufacturing Bangladesh; in many cases, higher-end labels even use the same factories as fast fashion chains. Production is just one component of a fashion company's operational costs (consider the costs associated with retailing, merchandising, administrative, advertising) and it doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship to price. Clothing retailers tend to determine price according to what consumers will pay, not based on production costs. 

This September, H&M reported $900 million in operating profits for the third quarter. The company won't go broke paying its textile workers more than $68 a month (the current minimum wage in Bangladesh; recently increased from $38), but its brand may get a boost from the positive PR. 

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How to Make Your ‘Amazing’ Ad Go Viral: Pantene Philippines Sells Shampoo, Shatters Gender Stereotypes

Pantene-L

Can an ad create social change? Can an ad spark a social movement or lead a revolution? Can an ad save me from my self-induced yogurdose*? The answer to all of these questions (and probably others) is a resounding YES. YES YES YES

Sorry, wrong hair commercial reference: Although the showergasms seen in 90s-era Herbal Essence commercials were truly a landmark moment in shampoo-related branding, we've advanced as a society. Moved on, grown older, felt feelings. We are no longer 14 years old, we are no longer quite so easily provoked. We are fierce and empowered and so are our cats. We have been awakened to the rampant sexism and overall gender bias in our society! (Also, there is racism and classism and homophobia and xenophobia and a host of other forms of discrimination, but none of us really want to dwell on the unfair advantages we may have over others, obviously**.)

I am a big big feminist. So big that if I had a Tinder account, it would even be my caption: "I am a big big feminist. :D"

So obvs I appreciate the core message and fabulous execution of Pantene Philippines' last hair commercial. Part of the brand's anti-sexism #WhipIt campaign, the commercial combats gender bias in the workplace, showing how men and women are judged by different standards. Where a man is perceived to be authoritative and in command (a boss, in short), a woman is deemed bossy. If a man works late he is dedicated; if a woman does the same she is considered selfish for neglecting her family. 

The campaign was initially endorsed by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and founder of Lean In, an organization which supports women who want to be bosses at work. Sandberg is arguably the most visible woman working in technology and business; when she shared the ad on Facebook [above via Fashionista], it went viral. The response has been 'amazing' —

I'm not going to play cynic (okay, maybe a little) and cast aspersions on Pantene Philippines' motives for producing the ad. The brand's Facebook page is loaded with similar anti-stereotyping messaging, showing real commitment to promoting the ideas introduced in the video. Also, among Fortune 200 companiesProcter & Gamble (which owns Pantene) has the single highest percentage of women (45%) sitting on its board. 

HOWEVER (you knew this was coming), an ad is an ad is an ad is an ad. It's commendable when large companies pursue social aims but it's our job, as consumers of ads and consumers of shampoo and consumers of shiny hair imagery, to maintain some critical distance. Even if (and maybe even especially if) the commercial in question is AHMAZING. 


*tooo mannny live and active culllturrres

**if you do feel like dwelling, this incredible article about a homeless pre-teen in New York City is a good place to start. 

The Buzz Latest News

Mobilia Fashion Fusion Presents Wearable Décor

"The throws, you can wear them as a cape but you can also put (them) on your bed… (or) on your sofa," said Mobilia president Daniele Bergeron recently to the Canadian Press. Not generally a statement you would associate with either capes or throws unless you're eight years old playing dress up as Batman in the living room, but do heed her advice as this home retailer is cooking up some fusion fashion.

Mobilia 1

Teaming up with Mariouche Gagne, founder of boutique Montreal-based label Harricana, the new Mobilia collection features items crafted from materials including recycled fur (Harricana’s specialty), knits and leather with a palette of brown, black, grey and neutral tones.

Mobilia 2

Any ethically sourced braids or trims — crafted from Norwegian fox, recycled grey sweater knit and distressed graphite leather — you see on their items are fully removable, doubling up as scarves, boas, or even hats during the colder months. But just an FYI: Pillows in the line range from $179 to $399; stools from $399 to $499 and the throws are $999 to $1,499.

It’s a cool concept and, needless to say, the homeware landscape has turned into a much more seasonal and style-conscious affair in recent years, with many people updating their throw pillows as often as they change their socks. Not that these pieces can be viewed as disposable décor, but we’re talking blurred lines, ahem, between fashion and home design. Are you on board? 

Images via Mobilia

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Toronto Upstart Trend Trunk: Cleaning Out Our Closets

Trend

Trend Trunk. What is it and how does it benefit me? Well, believe it when I say that the Toronto tech industry is booming. Seriously, we’re like the Snowy Silicon Valley these days and, joining in on all the upstart action, Trend Trunk is a website that that provides a platform for consumers to cash in on their closets and shop other’s wardrobes for less. Yes, in the immortal worlds of a certain Marshall Mathers, “I’m cleaning out my closet” and joining the online marketplace where consumers can buy, sell, haggle and donate their fashionable clothing and accessories.

Trend 1

Of course, many a TV addict may be familiar with the website from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. During Season 8, the company founder, Sean Snyder, asked the venture capitalists for $200,000 for 20 percent of his company, but came away a little scorched. After that, Snyder has tried crowdfunding on for size, and scored a financial boost from local grants and prizes.

Now I really hope this online venture succeeds, more so because I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. Have you ever tried to sell clothes at a fashionable Queen West thrift store? It’s a painful process, one that takes too much time for too little gain. Trend Trunk however, takes the musky unpleasantness away from shilling your clothes by uploading pics and letting them find you a buyer — even the postage is free.

I’m hooked. And not only because I found a Kate Spade tote for $108 or a Michael Kors wrap dress for $68. As of December 9, the site is also hosting Blogger Fashion Week, whereby emerging and established Canadian fashion bloggers will be donating their designer threads for charity. A great excuse to purchase yourself some pre-loved Christmas party pieces, yes? 

Trend 2

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Carey Mulligan Covers Dazed & Confused’s ‘Modern Myths’ Issue

Image: DazedDigital.com

Image: DazedDigital.com

Ok, Dazed & Confused: I accept Carey Mulligan's status as a modern myth, but why bring her down to size or whatever with such an affectless cover concept? The 28-year-old actress is all limp hair and microphone face, both aesthetic choices which are highly acceptable in theory (just ask my bathroom mirror about the limp hair part), but exceedingly inappropriate if you don't commit. Why so half-baked? It's not like she's a brownie. 

Apart from a cover, this looks like a really fantastic issue: there are interviews with Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, superstar Snoop Dogg and art critic Dave Hickey. There's also new short fiction by writers Tao Lin, Alissa Nutting and others tackling the existential despair of being a privileged young Apple consumer. As the publication's books editor Stuart Hammond put it, expect to read about "celebrity, self-harm, MacBook sex games, teen suicide, Sylvia Plath misquoted on the Internet and the particular type of crushing ennui that only a smartphone can induce.” < lol crushing ennui okay can't wait >

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More Sasha Luss for Vogue Russia — and We Love It! (Forum Buzz)

image credit: womenmanagement.tumblr.com via the tfs forums

image credit: womenmanagement.tumblr.com via the tfs forums

The winner of the tFS Style Awards’ ‘Best Female Model Newcomer’ Award, the stunning Sasha Luss, follows up her appearance on the Vogue Russia Special with the January 2014 cover of the Vogue Russia main edition. Looking flawless as per usual, the Russian model is wearing a Prada dress from the latest Spring 2014 collection. And since Ms. Luss can do no wrong, the tFS forums, once again, had nothing bad to say about the cover, which was shot by Patrick Demarchelier.

“Loving the eyeshadow + dress combo. Sometimes matching eyeshadow to the outfit can look a little dated, but in this instance it works beautifully. Just a nice, simple, elegant Demarchelier shot and Sasha looks really lovely,” posted Luxx

Justaguy agreed and stated, “Great use of colors and the styling's right on here.”

And catherine88 pointed out, “I like the makeup. She looks surreal.” 

Surreal, gorgeous, breathtaking. We’re once again enchanted by Sasha. And let’s indeed not forget to give credit to the great styling and makeup here, because all elements together make this just one striking cover!

 

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