Brands face a tough situation while taking a stand on the Xinjiang issue. If they decide to continue sourcing from the region, they face ban and other legal actions from the West and if they leave, they have to deal with large commercial losses. Either way it’s a catch 22 situation for them.
Brands fear losses on speaking up
Brands also risk losing trusted partners if they stop sourcing from Xinjiang. Besides finding new partners, they are also forced to deal with increased costs of sourcing and shipping the material. Also, they are prohibited from speaking against Xinjiang, lest they anger nationalistic Chinese consumers. Inviting Chinese consumers wrath can result in sale lossworth hundreds of mills of dollars for companies like H&M and Nike.
Hence, brands prefer avoiding voicing concerns on Xinjiang though they may take certain steps to curb forced labor. Most fear, protests might disrupt their Chinese operations and delayshipments to the country. Scott Nova, Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium and Steering Committee Member, Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Regionconfirms, some brands have informally committed to leave China but have requested himsecrecy on the information.
Small companies more forthcoming
Smaller, privately-owned companies are more straightforward about leaving China than bigger retailers that have amassed a large portfolio of consumers in the country. Fast fashion companies like H&M and luxury brands like Burberry are being compelled to decide between staying back in China or quitting it completely.
Global clothing brands like Patagonia are currently not able to determine the use of forced labor in Xinjiang due to lack of access to the region. They can only monitor their factories through video visits else they are harassed by local monitoring staff.