I came across this post on reddit this morning that opened up the floodgates of critical thinking on here. So bear with me on this. The link led to a video, entitled: “Behind The Swoosh- What Nike Don’t Want You To See”. Now, like anyone else with half an inquisitive mind I clicked on it to find the usual Nike sweatshop and non unionized workforce bashing that’s been popular since the late 80s. Rightly so I might add.
But I’ll get into that in a minute. One side note about this film what I thought was interesting was the main “character’s” initial story, about how he was coaching a soccer team at a Catholic University, and one that was about to sign a 3 million USD contract with Nike. According to this character he didn’t want to be forced to endorse a company whose practices did not comply with his religious and ethical beliefs. Fair enough. Only, that his dean then threatened to fire him for it.
- Again, this is a point that I will touch on a bit later.
Based on this, together with a friend he went out to Indonesia to live and work like a Nike factory employee- which throughout 15 minutes of this film becomes quite clear is beyond pale. Now, we all know this and most of us have quietly shrugged it off. No need to ignore reality. Fact is, large parts of our lives and economy are based on child labour ( cotton pickers in Uzbekistan for 90% of all Denim Manufactures ), low wage, non unionized labor and so on. It’s the ugly reality none of us on the receiving end of the “free market” here in the west want to acknowledge. Let me make it quite clear and easy to understand for you: Almost everything you own has blood on it. We should not only look at our favourite cool guy brands, but let’s look at the vertical manufactures, like Wal Mart, H&M and Zara.
That’s just the truth and this is where my questions started with this film. Why Nike? Well, for one it is the largest sport brand in the world. That makes it an easy target. However, it needs to be said- it’s not just Nike. I don’t have any figures here, but my guess is, that easily more than 90% of every clothing, footwear, electrical goods… I mean, fuck, everything we have is made by means that really, don’t agree with our so called high held principles of equality and freedom. We’ll bring freedom and equality to you either in shape of bombs or sweatshop factories. Either way, you don’t grow up in the western world, your chances of truly being fucked by the world are incredibly high.
The point of this piece is something completely different though. I want to return to this microcosmos of irrelevant clothing, camera’s and cunts and thought about the above film in the context of writing for a living in this industry. Again, the notion of free press is something we all yell about but reality, as above, is shockingly different. We do not have a free press. We never really had one and I am starting to wonder if we ever really wanted one- I think the unedited reality would be too much to handle for most people.
There is no need for a free press in fashion, lifestyle or whatever you want to call it. There never was one and there never will be. I realize that some people know this yet, again, like everyone making product we all “adore” through blood-labour, we ignore this. It’s never really spoken about. We all act high and mighty, on the notion of being independent and all mighty blogger / influencers ( I am trying not to puke while I write this ) but it’s simply not the truth.
I used to write for a living. It was great while it lasted but after some time I actually couldn’t stomach writing fluff pieces for advertising anymore. It just didn’t work- obviously, I still had to make money to feed to hungry mouths at home, so I clenched my butt cheeks, went into the proverbial shower and started working in this industry- I figured, well, hell, might as well except that all my falsely preconceived notions of “independence” etc were bullshit and lies, and sell out. Work for the man, take home a pay check and you know the rest. That didn’t work out so well, so here I am- one foot on the man’s ass and the other on here- which I can say is almost 100% independent. I’ll be honest, if someone pays me to write something I will. It just never has happened. So there you go.
Point being though, I know plenty of people who do still write for a living, or, whose blogs etc have become so popular that I know they need to keep taps on what they write. Why? Well, because they would loose their jobs. No joke. Let’s put it like this. I can say that I don’t like the content of the film- I don’t agree with Nike’s labour practices. I can only say this because I am fully aware of the consequences. I’ll never work for Nike, they don’t want me to work for them and I’ll never be on the cool guy blogger bullshit free shoes list ( I used to be ), nor will be on any global “press” trips, to shoot pics for a blog.
Which is quite ok for me. I am not demeaning anyone that is into that or lives that life, totally cool by me, but it’s not for me. Before I can go any further though, please feel free to substitute “Nike” with any other major brand out there: adidas, Vans etc. In reality, in our microcosmos we only have Nike, adidas, Vans/VF and throw in Levi’s, Lee & Wrangler ( also VF ), it really doesn’t matter. Aside from Levi’s, I am on no one’s “list”- I think I have managed to piss off every marketing person at said companies- who exchange jobs every couple of years anyway- in the past that it doesn’t really matter.
If you don’t believe me, ask any of your favourite bloggers to write a critical piece about the above and they will not. Criticism is usually dressed up in very long obscure sentences, focused on irrelevant design aspects and even then it’s not really criticism. Again, I can’t and will not fault my friends / colleagues for this. It’s their gig, and that’s how it is done. Seriously, this entire industry is build on the foundation of a bloody fiction, ass kissing and general high school politics of popularity. I know, most people reading this will know this because they probably work in the industry, but whatever, this is catharsis at its best.
So here is my gist- how long can we sustain this crap? As the whole world is falling apart- thanks to a corrupt system of monopolistic capitalism, really the question needs to be asked. If you break it down to this microcosmos, it essentially comes to down to the same, the “system” of manufacturing trends in a lifestyle is essentially corrupt. The real world is showing us what happens after 60 + years of corrupt manufacturing of unsustainable life styles. When is it going to hit here?