Earlier this month, thirty former workers filed a $50 million lawsuit charging Alexander Wang with violating labor laws at his Chinatown studio. The suit has been withdrawn from Queens Supreme Court, but lawyer Ming Hai tells the NY Post that the case will be refiled at the federal level under the supervision of an attorney specializing in labor law.
The charges brought against Wang and his brother Dennis are pretty hard to stomach, if they turn out to be true: the fashion brand is accused of keeping sweatshop-like conditions. Former employees say they were often injured working 16 hour days in a small, unventilated room— and in some cases fired for requesting worker's compensation.
New York City is a breeding ground for various kinds of exploitation, but it's still hard to imagine a leading figure in one of the most ostentatiously philanthropic industries in one of the most progressive cities in the U.S. fostering these kinds of inhumane practices. But for all its charity benefits, the fashion industry is notorious for a fiendish attention to the bottom line and often willful disregard of its pernicious practices.
If the charges hold up in court, Alexander Wang deserves all that's coming to him: certainly, the blow to his finances and his reputation. Some things are bigger than fashion.
Image via The Selby