In the Western world, we seem to have an obsession with brand names and wearing the labels of companies all over our bodies: Nike, PINK by Victoria's secret, Puma, Abercrombie & Fitch, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.
I never thought about this idea, until I thought about it. I went to a presentation on Nike by a man named Jim Keady who used to coach soccer at a Catholic university. The university eventually wanted to renew the school's contract with Nike, but Keady had been doing some research and had found out that the Nike workers in Indonesia were (excuse my french) being treated like shit. He went on a trip to Indonesia to learn about the deplorable conditions and when he came back, opposed the school's contract with Nike and left to start presenting a program called "Behind the Swoosh".
I won't go into much detail about the conditions since that's a topic unto itself, but let's just say that Nike is more like this:
I think this leads into a bigger question that should be asked: why do we feel the need to adorn ourselves with labels and logos almost constantly? What is it about a brand name that makes us feel cool or validated?
It can be hard to find clothes without some sort of label on them, especially sports clothes, but it can be done. Instead of supporting large corporations that do not have financial and ethical transparency, try to find clothes from more independent retailers or even better, fair-trade, organic, or vegan clothing (often all three of these go hand-in-hand!).
Many people would say "But Karen, fair-trade clothing is so much more expensive!"
Um. Well, yes, yes it is. But would you like to know why? Because the people who get paid are actually getting paid a fair wage. Meaning, they can actually live on the money and even put some away. So when we buy cheaper clothes, shoes, handbags, etc, the price of the product isn't the actual value of it. When we underpay for an item, we also underpay the person who made it.
Now, I'm not going to sit up here on a pedestal and say that I'm perfect. I can't afford fair-trade clothes all the time, and I buy from Old Navy, Kohl's, etc. I even wore a pair of Nike sneakers to the Jim Keady event at my school. Needless to say, I wasn't very proud of it, but instead of throwing the shoes away I kept them are are using them until they absolutely fall apart.
Another good option for buying clothes would be to go to a thrift store! That way, old clothes are being recycled and oftentimes you are supporting a small business.
So why label ourselves? We can think outside the box, we can express ourselves in different ways. We don't need a company to do that for us.