SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Victoria’s Secret parent company, Limited Brands, is launching a full investigation into allegations that cotton used in some of its products is grown using child labor.
A Bloomberg report profiled the life of 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire. The teen lives in a mud hut in Burkina Faso, Africa and is forced to pick cotton on an Organic and Fair Trade Cotton Practices farm.
“It’s kind of surprising since I’ve been shopping there for years and years,” Jodi Hall, a Salt Lake area resident, said.
The cotton is allegedly sent to textile factories in India then a garment manufacturer in Sri Lanka, where it is blended into cotton underwear for Victoria’s Secret.
“It’s definitely the first place you would go to buy women's lingerie,” Katy Prottengeier, a shopper, said. “If they're going to be an industry leader, I would hope they use ethical business practices.”
Many Salt Lake area shoppers hope the allegations aren’t true.
Victoria’s Secret parent company, Limited Brands, said they are very concerned. A partial statement reads:
“If this allegation is true, it describes behavior that is contrary to our company's values and the code of labor and sourcing standards that we require all of our suppliers to meet. These standards expressly prohibit child labor."
Depending on the findings, the company said they are prepared to take action to prevent the illegal use of child labor in the fields where they source cotton.