Ms Apter said that while no Eileen Fisher garments were made in Xinjiang and she did not source any fabric or yarn from the region, the company did not know if the cotton fiber it used could be attributed to Xinjiang.
“Two years of the pandemic and a deteriorating political situation have made complete control of what is happening on the ground impossible,” Ms Apter said.
How the Supply Chain Crisis Unfolded
The pandemic triggered the problem. The highly complex and interconnected global supply chain is in upheaval. Much of the crisis can be traced to the Covid-19 outbreak, which triggered an economic slowdown, mass layoffs and a halt in production. Here’s what happened next:
The company debated what to do.
“You know, maybe this farm has been certified, but we have no way to audit independently, people are intimidated, auditors don’t want to work in the field anymore, it’s impossible to really stick to it,” Ms Apter said. , recalling the discussion.
By 2021, Eileen Fisher had removed all Xinjiang cotton lint from its supply chain, she said.
LL Bean, the Maine-based private outdoor retailer, said in a statement that it stopped sourcing from textile mills in Xinjiang in 2020 and “completely withdrew from the cotton production process” at the beginning of 2021.
“We have full confidence in our due diligence process to state that none of our products are made with Chinese cotton or use forced labor,” the company said.
The decisions of small private companies to exit China have been simpler than for large retailers, which have cultivated a lucrative consumer market in the country. For fast-fashion companies like H&M and luxury brands like Burberry, which have also been the target of boycotts, the decision ultimately comes down to choosing a side: China or the rest of the world.
“It’s very difficult for a giant corporation,” said Michael Posner, president of the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit that has worked with companies like Apple to investigate working conditions at supplier factories. .