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LOS ANGELES — One of the city’s busiest intersections is now ringside for the boxing match between Sweatshop Watch and Forever 21.
This story first appeared in the August 6, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On Friday afternoon, Sweatshop Watch, a labor coalition, delivered the latest blow by unveiling a 45-foot billboard claiming the junior retailer uses sweatshops to produce its clothes. The billboard shows a crewneck shirt collar bearing the label, “Forever 21 Sweatshop Made.”
The billboard, sponsored by an anonymous donor, sits directly across the street from the Beverly Center mall on the northeast corner of La Cienega and Beverly Boulevards. There is a Forever 21 flagship inside that mall.
The sign will stay up through the end of the month.
At a news conference, held at the unveiling, cars honked their horns as about 25 demonstrators and representatives of the Garment Worker Center carried signs stating, “Boycott Forever 21” and chanted, “We demand fair wages.”
“Misery is not a bargain, it’s a burden,” said Mimi Kennedy, an actress on ABC’s “Dharma & Greg,” who turned out for the event.
“Forever 21 has always believed that in order to be successful, it is imperative to adhere to all laws and regulations,” Lawrence Meyer, the retailer’s chief financial officer, told WWD Monday. “Forever 21 does not and will not use, condone or perpetuate sweatshop labor.”
Sweatshop Watch has been involved in a boycott campaign against Forever 21 for nearly a year. It began last September when 19 garment workers filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming unpaid wages and bad conditions at the contracting shops where they sewed the Forever 21 label.
In March, most of the claims in the lawsuit were dismissed by a federal judge, but some allegations remain unresolved. That same month, Forever 21 filed a defamation lawsuit against the Garment Worker Center, Sweatshop Watch and the 19 garment workers. That lawsuit is still pending in state court., and the billboard will be added to it.
“We clearly see this as something that defames us,” said Meyer.