Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Just In Time For the Holidays

Where all of those toys people fight over on Black Friday come from:

In order to depict the drudgery of mass toy production, photographer Michael Wolf made a large-scale installation where he attached 20,000 used plastic toys all made in China surrounding large sized photos of the workers who make them. Wolf called the project “The Real Toy Story”. The work portrays the human presence behind mass-produced goods and provides viewers with a visceral, immersive experience that evokes the sensation of density endemic to urban areas of the region.


When freelance writer Wang Jian shops for toys for her 5-year-old son, she’s happy to pay extra for Legos blocks and Japanese-brand train sets. 

The reason, she and other parents say: Foreign brands enjoy a reputation for higher quality — a perception reinforced by the product scares of recent months.

“We pay close attention to the news about toy and food safety. If I find a problem with a certain brand, I will just stop using it for sure,” said Wang, who writes for film magazines.

China may be Santa’s global workshop, but when it comes to buying playthings for their own children, Chinese families who can afford it opt for foreign-brand toys — even if they are made in China.

Quality and safety issues are drawing more attention as incomes rise and upwardly mobile Chinese grow more health conscious. While virtually all toys on the market, whether foreign or domestic brands, are made in China, factories making foreign brands are assumed to abide by more rigorous standards to screen out lead paint and other harmful materials.

“I dare not buy cheap wooden toys or toys with paint,” said Lin Yan, a professor at Shanghai International Studies University, whose 7-year-old daughter tested for elevated levels of lead in her blood.

“I have a stupid standard: I buy her expensive toys in big department stores. I can only assume most of the expensive ones are foreign brands and are guaranteed to have better quality,” said Lin.

When her daughter is given toys she suspects are unsafe, she throws them away.

“Sometimes they have indescribable odors,” she said.


Many consumers falsely assume that products boasting the label “Made in Canada” are, well, made in Canada. However, designers can legally use that term if as little as 51 per cent of an item is made in Canada. Shoppers also tend to focus on whether a company or designer is Canadian, rather than whether they actually make their products here.


A Toronto law firm is seeking $2 billion in damages from Loblaw Cos. and its Joe Fresh clothing line in a proposed class action lawsuit related to the 2013 Bangladesh garment factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers.

Filed two days before the two-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza catastrophe, the April 22 notice of action filing came a day before a similar action was filed in the District of Columbia court against retailers including Walmart, The Children’s Place and J.C. Penney, which were among the 29 manufacturers who had clothing made in the building.

“It was known to [the defendants] prior to April 24, 2013, that Bangladesh factories had an extremely poor record of workplace safety standards and industrial building standards including garment factories, that there had been a recent history of very serious accidents and collapses at garment factories in Bangladesh in the period immediately preceding the collapse at Rana Plaza,” says the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court by plaintiff law firm Rochon Genova LLP.

And then people complain about the quality of a product, upping minimum wage for unskilled labour or bringing jobs back to X country.

First World problems.

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