The Kardashian fashion empire has come under fire as many of the family's branded and endorsed products are reportedly made in Chinese sweatshops where workers, some as young as 16, are subjected to inhumane conditions, according to Star magazine.
A number of factories connected to the Kardashians are being investigated by human-rights watchdog organizations, Star is reporting. “The Kardashians are in bed with some pretty bad people,” Charles Kernaghan, the executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, told the mag. Guangdong, the region in China where the factories in question are located, is "a scary place," according to Kernaghan, a leading authority on labor conditions in China. Factory workers reportedly earn as little as $1 an hour, toiling up to 84 hours a week in conditions that are akin to "minimum-security prisons." To put things into perspective, the Kardashians earn around $65 million a years.
America's most famous reality TV family stamps its name on countless products, from fragrances to footwear to diet pills to fashion lines. The lines under investigation are: K-Dash by Kardashian, the Kris Jenner Kollection which is sold on QVC, and ShoeDazzle, the membership-based shoe shopping site founded by Kim Kardashian.
Kernaghan urges Kim and the rest of the family to pull their production from China and use US workers and factories. “Kim, for example, could say, ‘It ain’t going to be all about me, me and me,'" he said. "She could do something and not leave behind a broken mess of women and children. If she took a stand and said, ‘I want to manufacture my products in Chicago or Los Angeles, where I can ensure people humane conditions,’ she would be taking the right stand.”
It's not the first time a Kardashian-produced or branded product has come under fire (see: the Kardashian Credit Card which included hidden fees and targeted teens, the Skechers Shape-ups Kim endorsed which didn't make good on their promise to shape you up, and the list goes on), but it's certainly the most serious and damaging allegations the family has faced.
Hardly a month passes without news of another Kardashian money-making endeavor, the latest being youngest family members Kylie and Kendall's forthcoming jewelry line (and reality show). Hopefully, this is a wake up call for the Kardashians to be more thoughtful about the products they invest in. Hopefully, they pull production from these deplorable factories and use their massive celebrity to bring attention to unfair working conditions and affect change.
UPDATE: A rep for the Kardashians, Jill Fritzo, has responded to the allegations on behalf of her clients, telling RadarOnline, "This is the first we are hearing about it and take it very seriously as we would never condone this. We are presently investigating the situation."
The company behind ShoeDazzle, however, is more adamant that the allegations are completely baseless. Robert Shapiro, the famous lawyer-turned-entrepreneur who owns ShoeDazzle, told TMZ that "his team has invested tons of time, energy and money to ensure the factories are operating in good standard," and claimed that he had never been contacted by the agency making the allegation.
ShoeDazzle's COO Deborah Benton, who has personally visited the factories in question, added, "This issue of child labor is of paramount importance to us. We've been very focused on this from the very beginning. Factories are routinely inspected and always pass inspection."
UPDATE: Charles Kernaghan, the executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, is now saying that he was misquoted in Star's article. He told TMZ that he advised Star to "to wait on the article," because he had no proof that the specific factories the Kardashians use violated child labor standards or human rights. Kernaghan says that the violations he described in the Star were taken out of context and were, in fact, referring to the region in China where the Kardashians' produce their clothing. He added that while 75% of factories in that region have violations similar to the ones described in Star, there is no proof whatsoever that the same is true of the factories that the Kardashians use.
Star has yet to respond.