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Levi's And You Essay

2216 words - 9 pages

Every day millions of people put on their durable denim jeans without thinking where they came from or how they got there. When in fact those jeans have had had quite the controversial journey. There are two billion jeans produced annually according to the Environmental Justice Foundation and your pair is one of them. How many gallons of water, fertilizer and chemicals do you think went into them ? These are questions that make many of us cringe and they are questions that need to be answered. The production of these jeans is such an intimately global event that we all play different roles in their production and consumption. So now lets take a deeper look at where those Levi’s really came ...view middle of the document...

In the late 19th century they weren’t troubled with the artificial ageing process like we are now, that came in much later and the most dangerous part of build jeans today. The original tailor Jacob Davis was the man who pitched the idea of a tougher pair of jeans to Levi Strauss. He decided that it was a sound idea for his clothing business and ultimately the two went into business together in 1858. In 1908 The Levi Strauss Company went global with their jeans “Two Horse trademark is registered in Japan”(Levi’s). The quick globalization of their jeans was a foreshadow of things to come for the Strauss company. By about 1985 all Levis are stitched overseas except one line and this is because “The garment industry’s economies of scale are long gone.” (global post). The United States lost its advantage in the denim market long ago when the US labor wages rose and the wages abroad in emerging markets was dirt cheap. The unionized labor here in the states was not cost effective and that can still be seen today. The price of a pair of US stitched Levis is going set you back $150-200 according to eBay whereas outsourced Levis will cost between $20-50 according to eBay’s latest prices. So immediately you can see the effects of the lower cost of production In Mexico and Thailand, allowing Levi to sell their foreign jeans for much less even after they have traveled around the world.
Let’s take a look at how those jeans made it to your dresser, if you take a quick glance at the tag on your jeans chances are it’s from Asia or Mexico and a few west African countries. Jeans are made here for one reason and that is cheap labor. Jeans are very labor intensive to make and in a global market that is highly competitive any competitive advantage and short cut is taken. This highlights the Inequality we have in the world today when we see all of this labor being exploited for the developed nations just to have cheap goods. These workers are providing these cheap jeans at the expense of their human rights. In these Asian countries like China the conditions are deplorable and the wages are unfair. This is the hidden cost to your pair of jeans that you put on this morning. How many hands toiled in the cotton fields or in the factory that distressed those designer jeans? Jeans are part of a larger pattern of consumption that the developed countries of the west partake in, excess is normalized and socially preferred in our developed nations. This is of course at the cost of the emerging nations like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The process to make jeans starts at one of thousands of cotton farms located in India, Pakistan, China Bangladesh and Turkey. Here poor farmers grow the cotton that is necessary for the denim for the jeans. Denim is almost entirely made of cotton a natural plant fiber that is extremely durable and well suited for tough durable clothes. “With few cash earning alternatives, cotton is often the only source of agricultural credit.” ( Apparel...

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