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Here’s What You Need to Know About Cambodia’s Violent Garment Industry Protests

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

Garment factories in Cambodia's capital resumed operations today after a two-week long strike turned violent this weekend, resulting in the deaths of at least four apparel workers and countless injuries.

Military police opened fire on protesters striking to raise the national minimum wage to $160 a month. Over the past year, the government made several increases to the minimum wage, bringing it from $60 to $100, which is a significant improvement but still far below the living wage ($177 a month, as determined in research conducted by the country's largest non-government union).

Cambodia's garment industry is growing 20-30% a year and accounts for 80% of the country's exports. 

Here's some of the best reporting on this weekend's events: 

Industry Still on Edge After Deadly Violence in CambodiaWWD

"Angered by the authorities’ use of force the day before, workers on Friday retaliated by throwing Molotov cocktails at the security forces gathered there, burning tires and flinging rocks to damage the factories. Eyewitness accounts said the military police then fired live ammunition and started pummeling protesters.

…Swedish clothing giant H&M — which sources from more than 30 factories in the country — condemned Friday’s violence and urged that unions and manufacturers continue wage negotiations."

Cambodia: garment workers increase pressure for higher wages Christian Science Monitor

"With overtime and weekend work, Ms. Maordy can make up to $130 a month at the factory, which makes jeans and T-shirts for a retailer in Canada — well above $80, which until recently was the legally mandated minimum wage. The problem is that wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Rent is up, and the price of groceries has risen considerably in the past month, ever since the government started enforcing certain import duties. Yellow noodles cost more. So do lemons, sugar, and chili peppers.

'I borrow the money from people almost every month, especially towards the end of the month,' she says.

That’s at the heart of the labor dispute that sent tens of thousands of garment workers out on strike last week, shuttering scores of factories, hamstringing an important part of Cambodia’s economy, and challenging well-connected foreign clothing manufacturers, many of whom supply goods for global brands like H&M, Nike, Asics, Gap, and Adidas."

Cambodia Reverts to Harsh Approach in Protest CrackdownWall Street Journal

"The People's Party realized that the protests posed 'a terrible, unprecedented threat to them. …It's a matter of survival' for the ruling party, Mr. Rainsy said. 'Once they have contained [the protests], at least on a temporary basis, then they will turn to the negotiating table.'

Government officials, however, denied any partisan political motivations behind its security operations last week. Of Friday's shootings, police said they used deadly force only after protesters threw rocks at officers, though witnesses said the demonstration was peaceful before the police moved in."

Cambodian Forces Open Fire as Factory Strikes Turn Violent — Reuters

"The strikes and protests represent a rare challenge to the 28-year rule of Hun Sen, who has been credited with attracting investment and creating jobs in the once failed state scarred by war and the bloody 1970s Khmer Rouge era.

He has also earned a reputation for being intolerant of opposition and rights groups have said abuses are common."


Related: U.S. Flouts Its Own Advice in Procuring Overseas ClothingThe New York Times

"At Zongtex Garment Manufacturing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which makes clothes sold by the Army and Air Force, an audit conducted this year found nearly two dozen under-age workers, some as young as 15. Several of them described in interviews with The New York Times how they were instructed to hide from inspectors.

'Sometimes people soil themselves at their sewing machines,' one worker said, because of restrictions on bathroom breaks."

Previously: 5 Things to Read About the Tragic Bangladeshi Garment Factory Fire

The Buzz Latest News

Link Buzz: See New Dior Spring 2014 Campaign Images; More NastyGal Knockoffs?; Gwen Stefani Has Reinvented the Pant

Image: Dior

Image: Dior

It's the first Monday of 2014 and we're one month away from New York Fashion Week. If you've been tuned out of the fashion cycle for the past couple weeks, welcome back and brace yourself: This isn't a slow news day. 

  • Several new ads from the Dior Spring 2014 campaign emerged online over the weekend. (Catch up on all other recently released campaigns here.)  [Forums]
  • Carolina Herrera has decided to remain at Lincoln Center for now, despite her earlier remarks that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week venue has become overly commercial. [WWD]
  • However, two other important NYFW designers and Lincoln Center critics, Diane Von Furstenberg and Michael Kors, have announced that they're headed to Spring Studios in Tribeca. [WWD]
  • Karen Elson and Liz Goldwyn have launched their Vintage Vanguard collection on Moda Operandi. [Behind-the-scenes video / Moda Operandi trunkshow]
  • NastyGal is in trouble again, accused of copying Grey Ant's sunglasses design. [TheFashionLaw]
  • The fashion industry loves Gap's new creative director, Rebekka Bay. [BusinessOfFashion]
  • And the business world loves Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO who recently moved to Apple to head retail. [FastCompany]
  • Would you wear clothing to thwart facial recognition technology? [i09]
  • These bedazzled Abercrombie & Fitch jeans have found their market, apparently. [FabSugar]
  • T mag editor-in-chief Deborah Needleman interviews the iconic Iris Apfel about her illustrious life in fashion. [T Magazine]
  • Gwen Stefani has joined forces with 7 For All Mankind founder Michael Glasser on a new line of non-denim pants. [WWD]

The Buzz Latest News

Ousted Designer Kit Willow Hints at a Return to Fashion


Ousted designer Kit Willow probably didn’t have to search hard to find a New Year’s resolution. Starting a new fashion venture or getting revenge on The Apparel Group, which booted her from her eponymous label in November, probably both seemed like attractive options. And it appears she may be doing both things in 2014.

In an Instagram post she shared with her 8,000+ followers at the end of December, Podgornik hinted that the Australian fashion industry hasn’t seen the last of her. The post reads:

"2013 marks the end of me in Willow – 2014 marks the beginning of a new dream. Support, love, encouragement, refined skills, clear vision, passionate and clever people, instinct, finely tuned intuition and hard work are just some of the building blocks it takes to create a brand and fashion that endeavours to enrich positive experiences in the lives of the wonderful women I have been honored to dress in the last ten years – unity is strength – positive power will prevail – love to you all.”

At the time of her ousting, the “heartbroken” designer resolved to take legal action against The Apparel Group, which took out an undisclosed stake in Willow before dismissing its founder. Since then, Podgornik has spoken to Vogue UK about the crushing turn of events saying, “I could never have imagined that what has happened would happen… It’s devastating not to be involved in something that I started a decade ago, and something that I have nurtured and grown over the past 10 years.”

Of her possible re-emergence into the local fashion landscape, she said, “For me, designing is almost like being a mother; so I always have the urge to do it, to create something. I’ve taken a lot of comfort from the fact that that the brand lies inside my heart, and wherever I plant it next is where it will grow.”

She’s still fighting with The Apparel Group over lingering contractual issues, but if she can’t regain rights to her own name, she’s in good company. Roland Mouret, John Galliano, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Jil Sander have all had their rights to their names usurped by their mother companies in recent years. And judging by the responses to Podgornik’s Instagram post, there are plenty of people who’ll buy her designs no matter what the tag reads. 

The Buzz Latest News

Kylie Minogue Joins the Men at Dolce & Gabbana’s London Collections party



London Collections: Men kicked off in expectedly sophisticated style last night as the great and good of the capital gathered with GQ magazine to celebrate the unveiling of Dolce & Gabbana’s men’s Pre-Fall 2014 tailoring collection, with a party hosted at the New Bond Street store by dancer Roberto Bolle and the Dolce favourite, Kylie Minogue.

Wearing one of the brand's Spring 2014 designs, Kylie looked incredible in the navy polka dot swing dress and an incredible oversized Roman coin belt. Rather than completing the full look from the runway, the Australian singer opted for a pair of over-the-knee suede boots that really made the outfit her own, and despite being considerably shorter than your average model, she made the micro dress look incredible.


Look 13 from Dolce & Gabbana’s S/S14 Milan show, Imaxtree

Joining the hosts in-store were a company of fabulously tailored chaps including David Gandy, Jack Guinness, Marvin Humes, Roberto Di Matteo, Sam Webb and Thom Evans, with a live performance from violinist Charlie Siem to round off the evening in style. Dolce & Gabbana's Instagram was alive with pictures of the glossy guests including this one of David Gandy, Kylie and Charlie Siem.


INSTAGRAM @dolceandgabbana

The soiree kicked off the beginning of a three-day extravaganza, filling London with hoards of delightfully trim, tailored and toned men as the street style spies turn their eyes from high heels and crowns to well-polished wing tips and crisply starched Oxfords.

With a bustling schedule of presentations and shows that included Jonathan Saunders, Lou Dalton and Topman design today; there will no doubt be a great many more parties in the capital tonight, while the likes of J.W Anderson, Christopher Raeburn, Alexander McQueen and many others prepare to take to the runway tomorrow.

London Collections: Men runs from 6 - 8 January.

The Buzz Latest News

You’ll Be Able to Shop H&M’s Super Bowl Commercial (Starring David Beckham) Instantly, Using Your TV

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

After a year away, H&M has announced that it's returning to the Super Bowl as an advertising sponsor this February, with an innovative new campaign starring David Beckham. The British soccer player will appear in a 30-second spot, debuting nine new items for H&M's David Beckham Bodywear line, now in its 5th season. A preview shot of the commercial posted on WWD shows Beckham dressed down to underpants and a tanktop, scaling exposed piping. 

You might be able to buy that tanktop off his back. The commercial will include a technological component which allows viewers with Samsung TVs to buy items instantly, using a remote control. The new technology is called T-commerce (television commerce) and H&M claims its Super Bowl commercial will be the first fully-enabled shoppable TV ad ever. 

[H&M to Air David Beckham Commercial During Super Bowl — WWD]

The Buzz Forum Buzz

Model Tanya Dziahileva Posts Message to Her Fans in her TFS thread (Forum Buzz)

Tanya on the runway for Paco Rabanne  F/W 2012/2013

image credit: (Paco Rabanne F/W 2012)

Model Tanya Dziahileva stopped by on the tFS forums to wish her fans a happy New Year. The Belarusian model, who is known for her striking alienesque facial features, has been on a hiatus for a few seasons. In her current thread on the forums she posted 

Happy New Year Everyone! Wish you all the best in this 2014 Year! Be happy, enjoy your life, dream, love, be successful and let all the luck in the world be yours. Fill your life with happy moments and great people! 
 With love,
 Tanya D

Many of her loyal fans were excited to see her make an appearance on the forums, on which she hasn’t posted anything since November 2011. Is this a sign the popular model is making a return to the runways soon?

Many fans responded to the message on the forums. Be one of them and add your greetings in her thread: Tanya Dziahileva tFS thread

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