Roman Originals, the manufacturers of the Web’s most infamous, meme-driven dress, has a history with child labor.
According to a 2007 report from the English newspaper Observer, brought to light this week by Mother Jones, there was an investigation involving the creators use of Indian sweatshops. It concluded that children in Haryana, a small state in the northern part of the country, were making clothes under duress for the U.K. manufacturer.
Reporters found “dozens of children cramped together producing clothes.” This included garments for the Birmingham-based Roman Originals. The children were “about 13, 14” in average, but reporters saw 7-year-olds working as well.
The Daily Dot asked Roman Originals what steps it has taken since 2007 to end child labor. It said via emailed statement that in 2007, upon becoming aware of the article, that it was “horrified to see these pictures and immediately launched an investigation into our suppliers… at this point we cancelled the contract immediately and never received or sold the garments.”
It also claims to have been deceived by its suppliers upon taking on the initial contract in India. “We had visited the suppliers and were presented with an adult-only workforce and practices that satisfied our standards. It appears that our supplier sub-contracted a portion of the business and that is where the problem occurred.”
Roman Originals says that it has restructured and monitored its supplier contracts aggressively since the 2007 report, terminating relations with “suppliers guilty of certain ‘transgressions’ and those unwilling to make the ‘necessary changes’ to their employment practices.”
It says that the infamous, viral dress was produced in Shenzhen, China, “and is in no way affiliated with the 2007 supplier.”
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