Why I Hate "Imported"

When "Imported" is listed in product descriptions or on clothing tags, it sounds so fancy but what it really means is just that it was made in another country.  And they're not going to tell you which country so you can try to guess the labor conditions because they aren't giving any special consideration to make sure you know.

Screenshot of one of millions of examples of "imported"


Which country a garment is made in is mildly indicative of labor standards. How do you know what a garment worker is making in each country?  According to Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed, you can bet they're not making more than minimum wage in their country.  How do you know what the conditions are?  You don't, unless the brand tells you what their supply chain is like.

So, when I see "Imported" I know it's meant to sound exotic...but I also see it as an industry cop-out getting in the way of manufacturing transparency.  It's already so hard to figure out which countries have better standards for their workers - but "Imported" helps even less in guiding my purchases.


  1. I instantly translate "imported" to "worst case scenario."

  2. Oh god, isn't it the most pointless thing ever? It's like it's the 1970s or something and "imported" is supposed to conjure up connotations of French or Italian-made goods, rather than the reality of stuff made for super-cheap in Cambodia. I noticed that some websites are getting better at providing useful, basic information (some Australian retailers I used to shop at list all their products individually as "Made in China"), and although it's still not really a high enough degree of transparency, it's better than the absolutely laughable "imported". I wonder how luxury retailers like Net-A-Porter would do if local laws changed and they had to state on their websites where their incredibly expensive, high-end items were made - I imagine customers who don't even care about ethically produced goods would be pretty unimpressed if they saw $800 shoes were made in China and not in Italy like they might assume.

  3. I know! What's even worse is seeing all these repinned pins on pinterest about where to shop online for the cheapest clothes aka some imported mess of the latest trends. I have nothing against being frugal, but what I have a problem with is this whole idea that our wardrobes are disposable and are built upon the cheap labour of mostly women and children labourers in global south countries.

    To me, I can't afford to buy these disposable trend pieces so that's why I usually shop at the thrift store and I almost always manage to pick up some awesome vintage or retro quality pieces. It can be done! Or even bypass these disposable imported cheap pieces to save up for something of quality that will last! I'm willing to sacrifice my being in fashion in order to be a more socially conscious consumer.

  4. how weird that they say that, i've never seen it before! Pretty much assume everything is imported, and if it isn't, it'd be trumpetimg 'made in the Uk!!!!' all over the place. I'm surprised there's not a legal requirement to say where it was made.

  5. Sites like the one shown do a very good job of hiding all kinds of information. I need a new pair of jeans, but after that building collapse in Bangladesh I am too upset to buy anything new. I might just have to make a go at finding a good pair or two at a thrift store. I sure wish the ones around here had changing rooms...

  6. I just realized that I wrote casually about 400 people dying and now I can't buy jeans. It makes me heartsick.



Post a Comment

Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Please don't apologize for writing a lot - I like long thoughtful comments so bring on the "wall o' text" if you wish and have no shame.

Short comments are, of course, also always welcome.