Monday April 12, 2010 | A T-Shirt in the Global Economy

April 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

Join us as we follow the fascinating journey of a single t-shirt through the global economy. Professor Pietra Rivoli has studied such a journey in her attempts to understand and explain how our global economy works. The path a single t-shirt makes from raw material, to manufacturing, distribution, retail and into a consumer’s hands can tell us a great deal about how the economy works. Professor Rivoli is in town for a lecture at UNC Charlotte but first she joins us to share her insights.
Pietra Rivoli
– Assoc. Professor, McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University
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  1. Mrs. Rivoli, THANKS for enlightening us! Can you speak to the “Super Highway” that is proposed to be built from Texas going North, to distribute merchandise to Americans at a quicker pace.

    What about you getting on ‘Morning Joe’, or The Diane Rheem Show?

  2. Rivoli, like so many treasonous Western elites, is an apologist for race-to-the-bottom globalism wherein American workers are constantly undercut by semi-slave labor in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere.

    No wonder the USA is in economic decline — why give an American worker a decent job with a living wage when you can pay a Chinese semi-slave 4 dollars a day to do the same job?

    I’m wondering: does Ms Rivoli own stock in or have business interests in any of these outsourced companies? I know for sure that many of the American economic elites who have done so much of this treasonous outsourcing own stock in and/or sit on the corporate board of these companies which are exploiting workers in Asia and elsewhere…talk about a conflict of interest.

  3. I have a small custom screen printing shop here in Charlotte. In the very small amount of blank T shirts I have on hand as inventory, there are for or five of each in same colors and styles from the same wholesaler, but the labels say some were made in the US, Honduras and El Salvador. You try to buy American, but sometimes
    you just can’t always tell- with a few notable exceptions (and those companies charge much more for their blanks.)

  4. What happens to the global trade system when the energy (oil, gasoline, etc) we use to constantly transport all of these products all over the world becomes scarce or else extremely expensive?

    Ever heard of ‘peak oil’? —

  5. Professor Rivoli, thank you for being a guest on the show. Mike, you mentioned why some people will still buy the $5 tee shirt as opposed to higher ticket items that might be in part to fair labor practices of that company. I’m a student at UNC Charlotte, and thanks in part to the economy, my hourly wage, and the constant inflation of the cost of living- when it comes time to put that shirt on my back I am in essence pushed to the cheaper of the two even when I may assume that there is unfair wages from that $5 shirt as opposed to the $50 shirt. Out of necessity, I must go for the lower price point of the two. Prof. Rivoli, have you taken looked at the company American Apparel during your research, which was founded on the principal of fair wages for clothing, and is made in America?

  6. Hello
    I moved from France to North Carolina in 2007.In France I have been working as a coporate legal advisor for about 15 years.
    My experience and diplomas being worthless here and with 2 new babies (a girl who is now 15 months old and a boy who is 3 years and a half), I decided to set up At the beginning I was retailing baby clothes mainly from upscale French designers. Then even if it is a huge challenge, I have decided to manufacture my products locally. The company which is making the clothes is located in Morganton:
    At Opportunity Threads they are taking the pieces of a puzzle we see in our struggling Appalachian communities and they are putting them together to create lasting social change: skilled workers, unused manufacturing space, and once idle machines are producing textiles for a burgeoning fair-trade, “green” market. This model of worker-ownership has the potential to change the lives of many workers, both native and immigrant, in our region as they build assets and hone skills. The emphasis on “green products and production” looks to reverse the trend of anti-environmental manufacturing and worker marginalization that has plagued Appalachia.
    I am in the process of launching with Opportunity Threads a new organic collection which will include the baby sleeping bags ; the baby sleeping bags are commonly used in France and in Europe and are recommended by pediatricians as they can help to avoid the SIDS.
    We are also in the process of launching new baby socks that stay on with a local company in Hildebran called Burke Hoisery. The company is struggling and is trying to reinvent itself as it is more and more difficult to compete with China.
    Moving from France about 4 years ago, I came with a European and especially French vision of the baby fashion and I am trying to propose items I saw in France but are not so common here.
    In the meantime, I also set up a company which helps Francophone people willing to invest in America and establish businesses in the USA.
    I heard a little bit of your talkshaw this morning and wanted to add this comment. Let me know if yo wish some more information.
    Best regards.

  7. Mike, you almost had it.

    Again, this discussion missed the cheap oil angle, in regards to how it can be cheaper to ship raw materials to China and return them as finished products, cheaper than we can make them in our own back yard.

    The t-shirt in reality is not that cheap. But very simply it enables our corrupted government to borrow money from China and send it to the Middle East.

    The control of oil being of geo-political importance. Jobs back home and a crumbling U.S. economy? That’s sort of like the management of the Grey Star line sitting in their comfortable Liverpool offices worrying about life boats on the Titanic.

    Wake up people.

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