7/6/20 Update: Li and Fung and Global Brands Group are intricately connected. Li and Fung places manufacturing orders for licensed products while Global Brands Group is the sales and distribution arm. The KENDALL + KYLIE label was listed within the Global Brands Group umbrella of companies until a few weeks after we published this story. It is important to note that it would be quite unusual for Global Grands Group to take on the sales and distribution of products unless Li and Fung uses their factory relationships to manufacture the label.
There are very few labels that are currently producing any product given the low retail demand due to COVID-19. Furthermore, Remake is advocating for garment workers that are still waiting on wages dating back to spring. Li and Fung is one company that cancelled payment for orders in March and April and has yet to pay suppliers.
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In their instagram post, the KENDALL + KYLIE label notes that they do not “currently” have any relationship with Global Brands Group. However, the real question that needs to be answered by the KENDALL + KYLIE label is as follows: Who has historically produced their orders and has the label engaged these factories to assure that wage payment has taken place? Who made the KENDALL + KYLIE label products if production did not occur through Li and Fung’s factory relationships?
The Instagram post notes that the KENDALL + KYLIE label is owned by 3072541 Canada Inc. However, 3072541 Canada Inc. is not a production company; they are a wholesaler. While the KENDALL + KYLIE label may be owned by 3072541 Canada Inc., the label also has work with an entity that has production experience (like Li and Fung) to place orders in factories. So the question here is: Who does 3072541 Canada Inc. use to place orders? Has the KENDALL + KYLIE label engaged with these factories to assure that their garment workers have been paid?
At Remake, we speak to suppliers and worker organizations every week and can note that a vast majority of brands and vendor groups en masse cancelled orders that were produced and in production in the wake of COVID-19. This is not just a Bangladesh-specific problem. Workers in China, Cambodia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and elsewhere have not been paid. Through the success of the #PayUp campaign, 18 brands have since promised to pay for back orders, with an estimated $1 billion being unlocked in Bangladesh and $15 billion globally.
The statement posted on the KENDALL + KYLIE label Instagram concludes: “We manufacture in countries all over the world and have not received any concerns from the factories who produce our goods.” It’s essential to note here that no supplier is going to have the ability to reach Kylie and Kendall given the many tiers that exist in the manufacturing process. Moreover, fears of losing future business relationships often leave suppliers too afraid to speak and come forward.
In conclusion, if garment workers are truly “partners” of the KENDALL + KYLIE label, Remake is asking that there be transparency about where the product is made and who specifically is sewing the product. Most garment makers around the world are on the brink of starvation due to unpaid orders across the fashion industry. Remake invites Kylie and Kendall to dialogue with our organization so that they may come to know the complexities of the apparel supply chains and ascertain that they are doing right by their makers.
7/3/20 Update: Remake would like to make the following correction to the verbiage used in the below article: The KENDALL + KYLIE label has never been “owned” by Global Brands Group. Rather, KENDALL + KYLIE has been “an affiliated label” of GBG, as was documented on their website up until 6/23/20.
6/24/20 Update: Remake has been petitioning Global Brands Group (who listed KENDALL + KYLIE as an affiliated label on their website until yesterday, 6/23/20) for refusing to pay garment workers for cancelled orders produced in February and March. Yesterday, we received word from a KENDALL + KYLIE representative that the label does not have “current” orders with Global Brands Group and will pursue legal action if we didn’t remove our posts and apologize.
To this we must ask: Do KENDALL + KYLIE know who their suppliers are? And can they confirm that the women who sew their clothing line have been paid during the coronavirus crisis?
Until we receive clear answers from the KENDALL + KYLIE team and are given proof that they have paid garment makers, we will continue to investigate. We’ve also invited the KENDALL + KYLIE team to dialogue with us to learn more about the women who bring their label to life.
Please find the original, unedited story below.
“Did my make-up and stuff”, shares Kendall Jenner to her 128MM followers. To which her sister, Kylie, retorts, “this is rare Kendall content.” It’s a typical exchange between Kardashian women, whose entire family is estimated to have a net worth of $1.6 billion, but behind their glitzy posts and casual comments is something far more troubling. As it turns out, Kendall and Kylie’s unpaid bills have left garment makers starving around the world.
Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s line, Kendall + Kylie, is owned by Global Brands Group (see story updates), who refused to pay its garment suppliers for orders produced in February and March following a drop in sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “Given the unpredictability of the situation, our retail partners have cancelled orders, and existing inventory and product in production may have no sell-through. Consequently, we have no choice but to make the difficult decision to cancel all S/S 2020 orders from all suppliers (without liability),” wrote Rick Darling, CEO of Global Brands Group in a letter dated March 21, 2020. However, the fact of the matter is that Global Brands Group does have a choice — it’s just choosing not to implement it.
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It’s no secret that COVID-19 has hit people of color the hardest. In the context of fashion, brands and retailers have en masse cancelled produced and in production orders dating as far back as February, evoking the force majeure contract clause to leave them scot-free and without any liability to suppliers. As a result, factories are facing a severe liquidity crunch, with the women who make our clothes placed in the most vulnerable situation. No longer receiving pay, despite having already done the work, these women are quite literally at risk of starving to death.
Kylie and Kendall aren’t the only celebrity culprits allowed to distance themselves from this devastating truth. Also owned by Global Brands Group? P. Diddy’s Sean Jean line. The irony here is difficult to overlook. Recently, P.Diddy launched Our Fair Share, a platform to help minority entrepreneurs access much-needed funds in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is admirable. But we talked to an entrepreneur in Bangladesh, Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director of Denim Experts, who runs a sustainable denim factory. Global Brands Group owes him hundreds of thousands of dollars for products his workers made and shipped in February. In correspondence dated April 13, he pleaded with Global Brands Group, “Here my workers are hungry, they are being agitated, they are very angry. I have promised them to pay wages. So please please make my payment.” We would hope that P.Diddy, who cares about COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on black and brown people, would ensure that his Sean Jean line does the same. Seems only fair.
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One does not have to look as far as Bangladesh to see the chaos and grief the fashion industry has unleashed on the vulnerable women who make our clothes. In downtown Los Angeles, there are 50,000 women sewing for brands (including Fashion Nova and Ross) that have reported layoffs and are facing food and housing insecurities with no government assistance because of their immigration status. Meanwhile Cardi B x Fashion Nova, are giving away $1,000 an hour to fans of the brand, totalling one million dollars.
In late March, Remake launched the #PayUp campaign to hold dozens of brands accountable for cancelled payments to suppliers. In Bangladesh alone, which employs 4.1 million workers, a majority of whom are women, brands cancelled $3.18 billion worth of orders after Covid-19 reached Europe and America. However, the problem of cancelled payments isn’t exclusive to Bangladesh. Brands cancelling on suppliers during the coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis, and as has been seen with Fashion Nova, is happening just as readily in the U.S.
Our fashion is brought to life by human hands, most of which belong to black and brown women who work 10-12 hour days and live paycheck to paycheck. COVID-19 has attacked both her life and her livelihood. Many live in crowded urban dwellings and take congested transportation to get to work. Facing dwindling orders, many factories around the world opened up this month, forcing garment makers to come back to work despite rising infection rates. With brands still holding payments from February and March, many of these women are risking their health to head to factories, while struggling to pay rent or buy food.
In Bangladesh a garment worker stated, “At the factory gate, they told us to go away, that it was closed because of the virus. When they told us to [go back home], I only had six dollars left on me.” In Sri Lanka, one of the women trapped in an industrial zone awaiting payment shared feeding her newborns tea instead of milk and foraging for fruit. Similar stories are rising across Cambodia, Pakistan, Haiti to El Salvador.
On Kendall Jenner’s Instagram there is a link to shop at shop.zazaworld.com, with proceeds going to Feeding America. One wonders if the women who made the “State of Emergency” tees and hoodies for this store have enough to eat? In this pandemic, we do not need feel-good philanthropy from Kendall and Kylie Jenner, P. Diddy, and Cardi B. What we need, instead, is good business practices.
Ask Kylie, Kendall, P. Diddy, and Cardi B to Pay Their Makers by using the hashtag #PayUp. Sign the #PayUp petition.