Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good vs. Evil

Every once in awhile I look down at my feet and I shake my head for letting things get so far out of hand. How come I spend so much money on so much stuff, but I always save the purchase of new shoes until the rips and holes become unbearable on the existing pair? Some people have closets full of shoes, some people buy a couple of pairs a month. Shoes always seem to be on the low on the list of priorities to me, but every one in awhile it's new shoe time and that time is today.

I'm pretty sure I've been purchasing back to back C1rca shoes (as well as being fortunate enough to have some gifted now again... Thank you!) for quite a few years now. What's in a shoe these days? Lots of debate is the answer! For those that are trying to be mindful of what they wear and who they're supporting with their purchases there are many things to consider. Are they man made textiles or are you wearing leather? What country were they made in and were they made by an adult or a child? Where they treated fairly and were they paid fairly? That's just the start... Then there's the debate of who's making millions and millions of dollars when skaters wear their favourite brand? Is it a company created, owned by and ran by skateboarders or is it some "evil corporation" telling you how much they "support skateboarding"? Is it a company that used to be owned and ran by skateboarders, but they were bought out by one of the "evil corporations"? Maybe you just don't care. Maybe you skate your ass off so you can ride whatever shoe you can get for free or next to nothing. Maybe you wear a shoe, cause you've tried them all and the ones on your feet just never let you down. Maybe you look up to Eric Koston so whatever he endorses, you wear.

Back to the evil. If Eric Koston wants to get paid by Nike to make a living, that's his prerogative, but just remember that when you pay Nike so they can afford to pay Koston... Nike still could be getting away with paying someone 14 cents/hr to make the shoes you are wearing. Nike, Adidas and Puma are all criticized for illegal work hours, dismal wages, sexual harassment, and physical violence in six factories used by the three shoe manufacturers.

It could be all fluff, but according to New Balance they still have a lot of their manufacturing efforts happening right in North America. Why is this relevant? Everyone wants a piece of the pie obviously, so New Balance has come out with their new skate shoe line.

Do you think when you buy Vans shoes that someone who cares about skateboarding gets paid? Not quite. The company that owns Vans gets paid just the same when you or others buy Wrangler Jeans, Lee Jeans, The North Face, Eastpak, Jansport and Timberland brands of clothing, just to name a few.

Are my C1rca's made in China? I believe they are. Does some kid get paid 14 cents/hr to make them? I hope not. Was the company started by skateboarders or businessmen? Business men. Business is business. Some do it ethically, while others don't. I'm not trying to stir up the debate any more than the last guy did, but I am trying to encourage today's skateboarder to stop and think...what's on your feet, why and who does it affect positively as well as negatively? There are millions of skateboarders or skateboard shoe wearing type people, spending an alleged 1.25 billion dollars on skate shoes every year. Someone (not me), needs to make a chart of brands, who's owned and ran by who and where do they get their shoes made etc... Then people could make well thought out consumer decisions. Maybe this list already exists? If it does, show it to me!

We sell shirts. Are they made in North America? Unfortunately not... or is it? They're made in Haiti and finished in Canada. Here's more information on having clothing made in Haiti.

What bothers me the most about all of this? The little guy has such an uphill battle. If some skater wanted to start a shoe company and he wasn't making tens of thousands of pairs of shoes, he would have a high cost on his hand at start up. Even if he sold the pair of shoes for less of a margin to be able to compete with the big corporations, there would always be that one person (I wish there was only one person like this), that would feel that their skater buddy who started their own company should give them a discount to wear their brand...cause they feel that their friend is greedy for turning skateboarding in to a "profit". So instead they'd rather shell out their $110 to companies that pays 3.8 million dollars for a 30 second commercial spot during the Super Bowl, while they pay someone as low as 14 cents/hr to make shoes and soccer balls. How do I know people are like that? I still remember this one Sunday night years ago (way back in the lowrider building days) like it was last night when an ass named Matt came up to me and asked "how much are you selling your shirts for?" With a cost of over $11/shirt at the time as we were paying a high price to get them screened by a local company that gave us the best service, I answered "$20 taxes included". This of course meant I was selling them at the time for $17.54 + tax, pocketing $6.54 for the goods, not including all the other expenses involved running a business and a store front. He scoffed that my prices were too high, accused me of trying to rip people off and he walked away. As he walked away, I noticed the Tommy Hilfiger tag on the shirt he was wearing. One can only guess what he paid for that high priced, huge profit margin shirt made by someone who already had millions of dollars and didn't need Matt's money. Moral of the story... It has nothing to do with shoes. Matt really was dumb! Unfortunately his way of thinking is the same of millions of consumers. Support the small guy. Don't be friends with people like Matt.

That's that!

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