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Club hosts Sweatshop Fashion Show

Nikki Taylor | Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Saint Mary’s Around the World Club will host a Sweatshop Fashion Show featuring clothes made in sweatshops and items that are fair trade, designed to promote awareness of the harsh working conditions found in sweatshops.

The show, which will be Thursday at noon in the Student Center Lounge, will follow the format of a typical fashion show, but graphic descriptions of the working conditions under which the clothes were made will be mixed in with the usual description of the clothing, Jeanne Choquehuanca, student coordinator of the event said.

“We tried to pick popular brands that people wear around campus,” she said. “We wanted a program to educate the Saint Mary’s community to the all too common use of sweatshops.”

Brands included in the fashion show that allegedly use sweatshops will be Gap, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Disney. There will also be sweatshop-free alternatives including local stores Just Goods of Mishawaka and Ten Thousand Villages in South Bend.

An outfit from the Saint Mary’s Bookstore, which belongs to the workers’ rights consortium and doesn’t use sweatshop clothing, will also be featured in the show, Choquehuanca said.

The event will feature outfits designed for going out, working out, or going to class.

Freshman Christine Dits will be modeling one of the going out outfits.

“It’s dark jeans, and a tank top, and probably some heels,” she said. “They are from JC Penny and Old Navy, both stores sell clothes fairly cheaply that are made in sweatshops in Europe.”

Freshman Molly Schall will be modeling an outfit of goods available at local fair trade stores.

“The dress I’m wearing is from Just Goods, and I’m actually thinking of buying it after the show,” Schall said. “A lot of the clothes there look like things girls would wear today and they are pretty reasonably priced. All of my jewelry and the bag I’m carrying are fair trade too.”

Along with the fashion show, fair trade stores Just Goods and Ten Thousand Villages will have booths set up so students can shop for trade items. Ten Thousand Villages will have its booth set up today during lunch and dinner outside the dining hall as well.

The proceeds from some of the items sold will go directly to helping the people who make the objects.

“My dress was made in Ghana by an organization called Global Mamas,” Scahll said. “The proceeds from its sale go to the organization. It even has a tag inside with the names of the women who made it.”

Choquehuanca said she hopes people will attend the fashion show to become better informed about the widespread use of sweatshops to make the clothes they buy.

“It’s a good reminder to know the wage of the CEOs versus the workers,” Choquehuanca said. “[The fashion show] gives a more holistic picture of the garment industry, that there are alternatives, and how we can be a part of the solution hopefully.”