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Deaths at Factories for Tommy Hilfiger, Gap

Tommy HilfigerAfter a series of devastating fires which killed and injured dozens of people at Bangladeshi factories for brands like Tommy Hilfiger, The Gap, and Kohl's in 2010, Hilfiger vowed to increase spending on overseas manufacturing to improve safety conditions for workers.

When he was approached by ABC News last month, backstage at his Fall 2012 show, the American designer claimed he'd moved his operations:

"I can tell you that we no longer make clothes in those factories. We pulled out of all of those factories."

Hilfiger corrected himself after the news outlet obtained shipping records for Tommy Hilfiger items originating at some of the factories in question.

The director of the Worker Rights Consortium, Scott Nova, told ABC's reporters that three workers were killed at factories responsible for producing Tommy Hilfiger items in the past few weeks, and that the American companies hadn't delivered on their promises of safer labor conditions:

"Just in recent weeks, three workers were killed at two separate factories producing clothing for Tommy Hilfiger. They say they're trying to improve conditions. They say they care about the rights of workers. They say they're committed to preventing fires and other tragedies in places like Bangladesh. But when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, they don't do it."

Contrary to the popular maxim, all press is not good press, and this is particularly bad press for Tommy. Besides serving as a reminder that products from American companies like Tommy Hilfiger and The Gap are often essentially interchangeable (except for their label and price tag), public outrage about bad working conditions overseas is at a high. Even though it was partially fabricated, Mike Daisey's story about inhumane labor practices at Foxconn, a factory that produces iPhones and iPads in China, and the scandal which followed, drew attention to the inhumane labor practices used to produce some of the beautiful things we're lucky enough to own.

The suit against Alexander Wang, for operating his Chinatown studio under sweatshop-like conditions, served as another reminder that the cost of fashion can often be too high.

Image via James Bort

[via ABC News]