Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Alexander Wang's 'sweatshop' scandal

Edgy American designer Alexander Wang has been rocked by scandalous allegations which suggest that workers in his New York factory were working under unsafe conditions. Internet reports say that a recent lawsuit was filed against him in the Federal Court in New York. A previous lawsuit in the Supreme Court, which was apparently initially seeking $50 million in damages, was dropped after the accusers wanted to take it to a more serious level.

Alexander Wang after his S/S 12 show

The employee who has filed the lawsuit, Wenyu Lu, has made some very serious allegations. The 56-year old worked for Alexander Wang, and his brother Dennis Wang, for 3 years, creating some of the grunge-chic clothes that are such a hit on the catwalk. The factory in which some of Spring's biggest sports luxe hits were made is situated in the Chinatown area of New York. 

Lu says that he and 30 other workers were forced to work up to 25-hour days in 'sweatshop' conditions. He says that they worked in windowless rooms, were forbidden to take breaks and received no overtime pay. According to the lawsuit, Lu was fired after requesting worker's compensation.

According to the NY Post: 

"Lu claims he was hospitalized for several days after he passed out at his work station because he was forced to work 25 hours straight — without a break — and was told he’d be fired if he didn’t follow orders.

Lu, 56, a three-year employee of teh [sic] Wang factory, claims he was also ordered to “knit and perfect a professional grade leather trouser from cut to finish in four hours.”

The job normally takes 12 hours, and results in a pair of pricey pants that can retail for $300, the suit says.

When the four hours passed, Lu claims he was insulted and called names by Dennis Wang, who ordered him to not take a break or go home until the job was completed, the lawsuit says.
Lu was ultimately fired on Feb. 16 after complaining about the labor law violations, bad working conditions, and applying for worker’s compensation, said Ming Hai, his lawyer."
Wang and his company have denied all allegations. They say the factory offers a luxurious working environment for all employees and a spokesperson has claimed that Lu was fired for bullying co-workers. 

The fashion industry is continuously rocked by scandals, but this is definitely one I didn't see coming. Alexander Wang is such a reputable brand and globally recognised label that these allegations could do serious harm. The most likely option is probably that Wang will settle the claims with an out-of-court settlement but nothing has yet been confirmed as the company say they have not been served the lawsuit yet, but continue to "vehemently" defend the brand

Alexander Wang S/S 2012: 

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