Alexander Wang denied allegations that its factory in New York’s Chinatown was a “sweatshop,” and the company vowed to defend itself against a $450 million lawsuit brought by an ex-employee. Filed last month in Queens County Supreme Court, the lawsuit claims Wang violated New York State labor laws, including provisions covering overtime compensation and minimum wage.
A spokeswoman for the fashion brand, which has yet to be served with the legal papers, told WWD on Tuesday, “The company takes its obligations to comply with the law very seriously, including the relevant wage and hour regulations, the payment of overtime to eligible employees and having a safe working environment for all of our employees. We will vehemently defend any allegations to the contrary.”
Forcing employees to work 16-hour days without overtime in an unventilated, windowless 200-square-foot room with more than 15 other workers were among the charges hurled at Wang by ex-employee Wenyu Lu. His attorney said roughly 30 of his former co-workers were added to the case.
The plaintiffs are demanding $50 million for each of the suit’s nine charges, including labor law violations, breach of agreement and unjust enrichment.
Lu, who claimed to work 84 hours a week at the designer’s factory at 386 Broadway, said he suffered work-related illnesses, including an eye injury and kidney stones, which resulted in an emergency operation two years ago.
In one instance, the 56-year-old Lu alleged he passed out at his station after working 25 hours without a break. Ultimately, Lu, who started at the factory in 2008, was fired on Feb. 16 after complaining about the poor conditions and applying for worker’s compensation for injuries sustained on the job, his lawyer, Ming Hai, alleged.
“Bad labor conditions are everywhere in the Asian garment community. It’s horrible,” said Hai, noting that there are more than 20 garment factories in Chinatown.
“A lot of the workers are new immigrants and they don’t speak English,” he said. “They work long hours. It’s like a new kind of slavery.”
According to Hai, who regularly tries such employment law cases, most factory owners tend to settle the disputes for fear of bad press.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia