Firstly, some pointers from Sweatshop Watch:
Sweatshops are commonplace in the USA.
"Sweatshops are continuously being discovered all over the world. In
the U.S., these conditions exist in many low wage industries that
employ immigrants, such as the garment industry. Recent studies
conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor found that 67% of Los
Angeles garment factories and 63% of New York garment factories
violate minimum wage and overtime laws. Ninety-eight percent of Los
Angeles garment factories have workplace health and safety problems
serious enough to lead to severe injuries or death. "
Definitive lists of companies that do or do not use sweatshop labor
are hard to create.
"Thousands of garment shops exist worldwide and assessing the working
conditions of each one would be close to impossible. While the
exploitive conditions of some well-known manufacturers & retailers
have been exposed, many other lesser-known clothing labels remain
questionable in terms of their labor practices... While some companies
claim to implement codes of conduct or use fair labor standards, many
do not disclose how these codes are enforced in their factories.
Information on wages, locations of garment shops, health and safety
standards, or worker complaints can be kept hidden from consumers and
human rights/anti-sweatshop organizations."
"Clothing containing a union label is one of the few ways of ensuring
that the garment was not made under sweatshop conditions."
The above quotes are all from Sweatshop Watch's FAQ page:
Global Exchange points out that buying a major clothing brand that
definitely doesn't use sweatshop labor is impossible:
"Sadly, there is not one major clothing company that has made a
commitment to completely eradicate abusive labor practices from its
garment factories. While we continue to pressure corporations to
become socially responsible, we as consumers can support the following
As does NikeWages:
"Are there any companies that dont use sweatshops?
At the moment there are no major brands producing clothing or footwear
that do not use sweatshops. 90-95% of all clothing and shoes you will
find in retail stores are made in conditions similar to the conditions
we documented during our time with Nikes workers in Indonesia. One
reason that well-known corporations (Nike, Reebok, Calvin Klein, Old
Navy, Wal-Mart, Kohls, etc.) have multimillion dollar advertising
budgets for billboards, TV commercials, magazine ads, radio ads, and
newspaper ads is because they pay workers what is considered a
Here are some lists of clothing brands that definitely do not use
Unite Union - Manufacturers
Fair Trade Federation - Retail stores
Fair Trade Federation - Wholesalers
Co-op America - Manufacturers
Clean Clothes Shopping Guide 2001-2002
(requires Acrobat Reader)
If you come across this next list, I would suggest you ignore it - on
the surface it appears to be the type of list you are after, but the
criteria for linking to a clothing retailer is that it runs an
affiliate program (so they can make a profit from linking to them):
"We have also attempted to include some merchants in each category who
provide positive social and environmental benefits through their
products. Inclusion of any merchant is not an endorsement of that
company's practices or products."
The US Dept of Labor suggest two ways of ensuring you purchase
1. Ask the retailer where and how the garments were made
2. Ask the retailer if they independently monitor garment
manufacturers to avoid buying from sweatshops - many retailers do this
Lists of clothing brands that do use sweatshop labor:
I couldnt find any sites that produced a long list, possibly due to
the risks involved when accusing large corporations. The major
anti-sweatshop organizations tend to target a few, high-profile
manufacturers, rather than a long list. The short lists of campaigns
can be found at:
Behind the Label: Names retailers Wal-Mart, Lord & Taylor, The Gap,
Ann Taylor, JC Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew and Eddie Bauer
Sweatshop Files: Profiles on Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, Eddie
Bauer, J. Crew and The Gap
National Labor Committee: Names Wal-Mart, Guess, Walt Disney Co.,
Nike, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Esprit, May Co. and Victorias Secret
Saipan Sweatshop Lawsuit: Names Levi Strauss, Calvin Klein, Brooks
Brothers, Abercrombie and Fitch & Talbots
Finally, you could also consider buying second-hand garments, getting
new ones made by a tailor, or simply not buying more clothes.
BUT AREN"T THESE FOREIGN WORKERS BETTER OFF?
NikeWages.org makes a good case of saying, No, they aren't:
You hear about a place - a factory that is hiring and is paying
slightly above the legal minimum wage. A minimum wage that the
Indonesian government has admitted will only meet 80% of one adults
food needs - but it doesnt matter at this point because you NEED a
job. This seems like the best situation because you dont have many
options and you cant wait for "something better to come along in a
week", because you need to eat today. You are forced, out of
necessity, to take a job at a Nike factory because there might be NO
other opportunities for you. So you do. And heres the reality of your
job at a Nike contract factory:
-You will work up to 15 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, sometimes two 24
hour shifts per week if the quota is high enough.
-It is going to be hot, smelly, and noisy in the factory.
-You may breathe in toxic chemicals if you work on the glue lines.
-Your manager might physically, verbally and sexually abuse you.
-You may have to return sexual favors for this job you have just been
-You may work on the shoe-press machines where workers routinely lose
parts of their fingers.
-You may be forced to work overtime when quotas are high that far
exceed Indonesias 54 hour maximum workweek or even the 72 hour shifts
for factories that applied for exemption from Indonesian law.
-When you get your paycheck at the end of the month you do not have
enough money to meet your basic living needs, let alone have the
ability to save money or send money home.
They continue to say that although having a terrible job is better
than no job at all, having a job that allows you to meet all of your
basic needs, adequately provide for your family and maintain your
human dignity, would be reasonable and preferable for all human
Nike workers in Vietnam are not better off.
"Nike has a marketing budget of $560 million, some of which goes into
the hands of multi-millionaires like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
If Nike were to cut out only 2% of this marketing budget the report
shows, the daily salaries of 25,000 Vietnamese workers would raise
from a meager $1.60 to a decent $3.00 (the calculated living wage in
Vietnam according to the Vietnam Labor Watch)."
Some more hourly rates are at the National Labor Committee website
Compare the approximate Indonesian wage (10 cents an hour) with their
Costs of Basic Needs:
list manufacturers sweatshop
Google Directory Category used:
I trust this answers your question. If any portion of my answer is
unclear, please ask for clarification.