Target: Unionmade Clothing
Goal: Stop tricking consumers into thinking that Unionmade’s clothing is actually made by unions by changing the name of the company
The upscale men’s clothing store Unionmade has recently been celebrated by fashion magazines such as GQ. The store, based in San Francisco, sells “vintage” style clothing. Examples of its products include $258 “Vintage Styled Work Shirts,” $68 Cow Horn Combs, and $565 “Vintage” Levi Jeans. The company claims it seeks to “improve the lives of its customers, community, and suppliers by offering fairly priced products made from the best available materials.” Despite its name, however, Unionmade’s produces are not union made.
This fact was discovered by several people who emailed the company. One woman had emailed Unionmade with the intention of purchasing a present for her father, a Teamster. The company informed her that in fact the goods they carry are not union made, and that the name is an “overarching concept and narrative for the store, signifying that we strive to carry well made and aesthetically timeless goods.” Another person who had sought out the company in the interest of purchasing union-made clothing was also told that Unionmade tries to “carry products that represent the “Union Made” ideals of yesteryear as it is virtually impossible to curate a store entirely of union labor made products.”
While the intention of the store is clearly not malicious, its name is misleading and insulting. There exist stores that do in fact carry products that were actually made by union members under a union contract. There is nothing “impossible” about this scenario. What’s more, selling products under the title of “Unionmade” while not actually being union made is not only dishonest, it is also a little absurd. Selling overpriced clothing designed to imitate what poor people once wore can easily be accomplished without a brand name that conflates an “overarching” fashion concept with a serious political issue. Tell Unionmade to change its misleading name.
I am writing this letter to ask that you change the name of your store. I believe that there are two strong reasons why you should do so.
First, the name is misleading. The products your store carries are not union made. Your store’s name implies that the products are union made and it is disappointing to find that they are not so. I understand you have chosen the name to evoke the image of working people long ago, but it still has the effect of false advertisement.
Second, and most importantly, the name is insulting to union workers and to the importance of unions in America’s history. The idea of union made clothing is not an “ideal of yesteryear” — unions still exist and are still relevant in the lives of many workers today. American unions fight for collective bargaining rights and for wage increases to this day. Therefore the attempt to capitalize on it as a nostalgic image is an unfortunate political statement that suggests an asinine and unreflective company vision.
While you most likely meant no harm in choosing your name, it would be a wise and thoughtful decision for you to change the name of your store to something less confusing and less insulting to unionized workers. Please change your store’s name to address the contentions that myself and others feel towards Unionmade.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Salon.com