The Swedish department store, PUB, was due to start selling the NoKo brand jeans, made in North Korea, last week but pulled the line after receiving huge opposition for trading with the isolated, hermit state.
The company claims the decision not to sell the £131 jeans was to avoid controversy and the designers defended their decision to trade with North Korea stating their intentions were to increase contact with the isolated state.
It seems in fact the designers found a cheap way to manufacture the jeans and sell them with a huge mark up – with no consideration towards the oppressed workers in the communist state.
One of Noko’s designers told the BBC: “It’s a country that sometimes treats its citizens terribly, but we think our project is a way … to influence things”.
The naive, young designers clearly had no idea how much impact this decision would have and have little or no knowledge about political relations with the state.
Another entrepreneur responsible for the NoKo project, Kalle Tollmar, said it was a real shame, and some fashion insiders have called the move to drop the line cowardly.
Rene Stephansen, the store’s director, said they had not been told the label would be sold in-store, and pulled the line when they became aware of its North Korean ties via extensive media coverage.
The shop manager also suggested maybe Noko should remove the ‘made in China’ labels from their products.
One of the three young Swedish entrepreneurs who helped created the brand said when he heard the jeans were removed from the store he thought it was a joke and their intention was to use fashion to shake up the isolated links between North Korea and the western world.
The jeans, which are only available in black as blue denim is associated with American capitalism, were to go on sale with a price tag approximately equal to a North Korean’s salary for over two years.
The jeans are still available on the website but I doubt anyone with a shred of conscience would consider buying them – then again the fashion world is intrinsically linked with oppression and controversy so will anyone take any notice?