China is seen by many as the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, this reputation has been achieved by being able to manufacture a wide swath of different products, all at costs lower than what competing countries can offer. This position has often led to ideas such as, in order to cut costs, Chinese manufacturers sacrifice ethical and moral responsibilities. While certain companies are willing to let this happen on their watch, and with many titans of industry, such as Apple, falling to the temptation of cheap, unethical labor, it is understandable that manufacturing in China is sometimes looked at negatively.
Ethical manufacturing is very possible in China, and still conceivable at a lower cost than what could be achieved in the United States. Ellie Kai, a made-to-order dress company that manufactures in China, has long been committed to sustainable practices in China. The founder of Ellie Kai, Liz Hostetter, has always been devoted to being responsible to the environment and to her employees. As a result, she has personally overseen that her factories are upright establishments that practice sustainability. She says that while sourcing for companies that fit her strict set of criteria can sometimes be difficult, she has always relied on the adaptability of manufacturers in China.
In order to make sure that your supplier practices ethical manufacturing, it is best to present your intentions at the beginning, and if possible, do a factory tour yourself. There are companies that can act on your behalf to ensure that all practices are ethical and sustainable, meeting your standards and ensuring that sustainability is maintained in the face of growth. Companies in China are often willing to conform to the high standards that you hold, it is just a matter of communication and vigilance. Going forwards, sustainable companies will have an advantage as they can avoid the pitfalls of scandal while facing rising scrutiny from consumers and governments.