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Four Brooklyn Sweatshops Raided One Made Suits And Jackets For Kmart’s Kathy Ireland Label

Wed., Sept. 4, 1996

Four Brooklyn garment factories, including one that produced clothing for a line that Kmart sells under the Kathy Ireland label, have been raided by law enforcement officials, and their owners and managers have been arrested for operating sweatshops, the Brooklyn district attorney said on Tuesday.

One of the factories made women’s suits and jackets for the label of Ireland, an actress and model perhaps best known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

In a case that once more linked celebrity endorsements to sweatshops, Ireland expressed dismay on Tuesday at the charge that a shop producing for her line submitted workers to hazardous conditions and paid some less than the minimum wage.

District Attorney Charles Hynes said the raid, which took place last month, found numerous fire safety code violations that contained a “potential for tragedy.” They included locked exit doors, obstructed aisles and sprinkler violations.

Hynes said there were also two sets of accounting books, one showing that some workers were being paid below minimum wage.

Ireland said she would cooperate with the authorities against such practices involving her line, taking a posture similar to that of Kathie Lee Gifford, the television host, after a labor advocate disclosed that her clothing line, sold by Wal-Mart, was being made by children working long hours for low wages in Honduran factories.

Ireland was not at the news conference at which the raids were announced, but her statement was read by a Kmart official, who said that Kmart had worked to avoid such conditions.


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