This is always a thought provoking and complicated issue Hutch. I suspect that many middle-income earners in North American were appalled in 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and 1,100 workers were killed. It hit home when the list of North American retailers who contracted with that factory was released and many of us recognized companies that we deal with on a daily basis, directly or indirectly. We all had blood on our hands.
But what is the solution? North American consumers demand the products that these factories produce and manufacturers move their production off-shore in order to be competitive. Are the products they produce made of high quality fabric, are they constructed to last? No and no -- but sadly this is what the majority of North American consumers want to buy.
I personally do not buy cheap, mass produced clothing because I am a middle-aged, middle-income woman and spend most of my time locked away in a studio designing and constructing costumes. No one cares what I look like and I am well beyond being concerned about those sorts of things. That being said if I do buy RTW I go with the old maxim of buying one very good quality garment that will last for years rather than five poorly constructed pieces made out of inferior fabric.
However, I am also a business woman -- in order to sell my products I must be competitive. As much as I would like to use high quality, locally produced fabrics I cannot because the price is prohibitive. I do not mass produce pieces so I cannot purchase in bulk. To make a Regency style dress-coat I need 3 metres of fabric plus lining, interfacing, buttons, etc. I can sell that coat for $500 Canadian -- if I purchase high quality fabric I am basically working for free if not in the hole. I have no idea where the wool that I use is produced but I am certain it is off-shore -- otherwise I wouldn't be paying $25/metre.
I'm not sure what the solution is . . .