Las Vegas, NV: At a surprise fashion show this week, the buzz was all about Gap’s new line, which they’re calling “starvation wage” fashion. Models wore outfits with a distinct vintage feel, in that they were made entirely out of bits of rags sewn together. Some of the more casual pieces included t-shirts displaying slogans like “I’m so hungry” or “My children have scurvy”. The fashion line explored the possibilities of underused materials such as burlap, cardboard and old rubber. One of the most popular items was a pair of shoes made of truck tires which was both fashionable and allowed one to stand on a factory floor for over twelve hours.
Gap CEO Glenn Murphy stated that the new products were part of an effort to show the positive aspects of labor exploitation. He explains that the reason Gap can produce goods of such quality is because of the suffering of his employees. If his company were to increase the wages of the workers, the products would likely suffer.
“Look at the stitching on this,” Mr. Murphy passed out a dress shirt to a gathering of the press. “That kind of quality only comes from someone who knows that whether their family eats that night depends on them getting that stitch right. Really, it’s a trademark of our brand.”
Murphy’s statement refers to the long and storied history of Gap. Since 1995, Gap has clung strongly to its roots, making sure the people behind its products were kept properly underpaid and mistreated. Despite mounting opposition, Gap has stayed the course, becoming a beacon to other companies seeking to explore the potential of near-slave labor.
The new fashion line is already becoming popular. In the face of a flagging economy and crippling student debt, elegant jackets and dresses are out, burlap sacks and cardboard hats are in. Gap’s ads show slim young white people wearing the “starvation wage” outfits while begging for money to support their new band.
Gap insists the clothing is not just meant to be stylish, but it’s also functional. Cardboard clothing protects from the occasional monsoon, at least for a little while. Also, strips of burlap make excellent bandages that allow blistered hands to finish the last eight hours of a shift.
However, Gap’s opponents won’t be fooled. Bucking the new trend in fashion, protesters dressed up in suits and ties to demonstrate at Gap headquarters in California.
“I, like, totally hate the way Gap treats its workers,” said Cathy McGibs, a sharply dressed protestor. “That’s why I only shop at Hot Topic.”