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LA Wholesaler Accused of Wage Theft

A grassroots social media campaign claims a Los Angeles brand stiffed garment workers who made its clothing last year.

“Trendy but wearable” young contemporary womenswear label Bucketlist refused to pay its Downtown L.A. garment factory for two weeks of work in May of 2022, according to the Garment Worker Center (GWC), a regional worker rights organization. As a result, the apparel manufacturer was unable to pay its workforce, and was forced to shutter during the weeks following the dispute, as it fell behind on its rent payments and was evicted from the property, campaign director Daisy Gonzalez told Sourcing Journal.

Ten workers who lost their jobs following the factory closure came forward with their accounts, working alongside GWC to try to get the wholesale brand to repay the lost wages. “Workers wanted support in reaching out to the brand, and that’s what we did,” Gonzalez said. “We wrote a letter to Bucketlist at the beginning of February, and workers really wanted to sit down with representatives from the company.”

Bucketlist, a fixture at the Magic Las Vegas and Dallas Market Center trade shows, did not respond to the GWC’s letter, so the organization went public and posted about the issue on its social media accounts Monday morning. Bucketlist’s Instagram page was soon flooded with dozens of comments demanding it pay the garment workers. Soon after, Gonzalez said Bucketlist got in touch to say it wanted to meet with the complainants. “The next step is to schedule that meeting so the workers can meet directly with the brand, let them know what happened, and request their backpay,” she said.

Instagram users flooded Bucketlist with comments this week.
Instagram users flooded Bucketlist with comments this week. Sourcing Journal

A worker named Ramona told Sourcing Journal that her employer, the factory owner, informed her last May that he would be unable to pay her two weeks’ worth of wages because Bucketlist did not pay him for the order. The news left her “sad and disappointed, because they didn’t even give me $100,” she said. “They didn’t give me anything.” Without the wages she was owed, Ramona said she was forced to ask her children for help paying rent, and borrowed money for food.

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“I want to get paid. It’s not fair to work for free to produce Bucketlist’s clothing,” she added. “It’s not fair to work 10 to 12 hours for free. We are parents. We have to put food on the table.”

Gonzalez said that fashion companies have acted with relative impunity for decades, because of the unequal relationship between brands and their suppliers. “For the past 20 years, our priority has always been brand accountability,” Gonzalez said. “These are not the only workers facing wage theft in this industry—it’s so widespread that brands just don’t pay enough for production, or sometimes don’t pay at all.”

A representative for Bucketlist declined to comment.