This week I drove through one of the most beautiful corners of this world; Nordfjord in the Norwegian west coast. There—in the rich and peaceful countryside—problems in China’s and India’s factories seem far, far away. But they really aren’t. Nordfjord is home to several successful apparel companies: Ricco Vero, Skogstad and Frislid are famous in Norway and beyond. Best known of all, however, is the iconic Moods of Norway. After repeated pressure from consumers and a Norwegian NGO, Moods of Norway has finally gone public with list of their worldwide suppliers [1-3]. That’s a good start, but not enough! It is admirable that they want to make “happy clothes for happy people”—but do they want to make people happy?
Moods of Norway is a unique success story. It all started when Stefan Dahlquist and Simen Staalnacke got a crazy late-night idea in Hawaii in 2o03. Together with Peder Børresen they thought it was a good potential in designing “Happy Clothes for Happy People” based on historical Norwegian design and golden tractors. Today they are present in more than 100 stores worldwide. A handful of stores are located in the coolest places in Japan, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, and the USA. Next time you stroll down Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills make sure to drop by their flagship shop. This is how they present themselves:
Moods of Norway has been doing the hibbedy-dibbedy on the international fashion dance floor since 2003, and the philosophy is still the same even though the Norwegian oil price is as flexible as a Bulgarian gymnast after 14 Tequila shots. Our main goal, besides making our grandmas happy, is to make happy clothes for happy people around the world.
It is, however, not far from cheerful party-mood-talk like this, to serious survival in developing countries. Lately, we have heard a lot about unacceptable work conditions in Asian factories. H&M have been heavily criticized for mass faintings and low wages in Cambodia  . The garment factory fire in Bangladesh that killed 124 people in November 2012 was one of the worst the world have seen . This year, another fire in Bangladesh killed 7 more workers . Not to mention the suicides in the Chinese Foxconn factories in 2010 , and repeated suicide threats last year. In general, we in the developed world buy a lot of products manufactured by poor people under inhuman work conditions. That is exactly why we need more supply chain transparency!
Unfortunately, many of the world’s most famous apparel chains do not tell the consumers where their products are made. The unflattering list includes H&M, Zara, Kappahl, Lindex, Gina Tricot, Match and BikBok, among many others . Shame on them. They explain that they cannot tell due to competitive advantages, and that—I am afraid—is understandable… All of them produce ordinary clothes and compete primarily on price. But Moods of Norway?? Come on! You guys compete on unique design and the feelings embedded in your logo. You sell 5$ sweaters for $150 in your stores! I can only see one reason why you don’t go permanently online with your supplier list: You fear what they might be doing, and you might be too small to actually do something with it. That, however, does not exempt you from the responsibility to secure for the life of the people who work hard to secure for your wealth.
Transparency is always good. Who thinks that transparency has hurt Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Levi’s, or the Norwegian brands Helly Hansen and Stormberg? Thanks to Moods of Norway for publishing their current list of suppliers (after pressure); we can’t wait to see it online and updated. To spread the word, I include your list of supplier factories below. I hope happy people work there…
(Ps! Thanks to the friendly gentleman who let me into the Moods of Norway store in Stryn outside the opening hours. Dressed in Moods of Norway clothes from shoes to cappie, he was surely happy:)
- Fremtiden i våre hender – Vis oss fabrikkene!: http://vrengkleskjedene.framtiden.no/
- Moods of Norway gir etter for åpenhetspress: http://www.framtiden.no/201302026005/aktuelt/levelonn/moods-of-norway-gir-etter-for-apenhetspress.html
- Her er fabrikkane til Moods: http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/distrikt/nrk_sogn_og_fjordane/1.10897595
- Bangladesh garment factory fire kills 124: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bangladesh-garment-factory-fire-kills-124/1036090
- H&M under fire over Cambodia mass faintings: http://www.thelocal.se/39006/20120209/#.URP6DaVX0rU
- New Bangladesh Fire Kills 7: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323829504578267630667074360.html
- Inside Foxconn’s suicide factory: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/china-business/7773011/A-look-inside-the-Foxconn-suicide-factory.htm