Commonly known as the Queen of Spades, is Kate also the queen of ethical practices? It appears to be so. Kate Spade has developed a program for Rwandan women called ‘On Purpose.’ Kate Spade purchases products from Abahizi Dushyigikrane (ADC for short), a Rwandan, employee-owned supplier. ADC employers (which are 99% women between ages 18 and 60) work 8-hour days for 5 days a week, receive 3 weeks of paid vacation, paid maternity leave, paid health care, English classes, counseling, literacy classes, and reproductive and nutritional health classes. For 80% of these women this job is their first in the formal sector. Kate Spade’s website proudly boasts: “It’s not charity. It’s our supplier.”
While it seems like there are no tricks up Kate’s sleeves, there are a few cards they aren’t showing. Kate Spade cannot trace all of its supply chain. Moreover, Kate Spade does not release where it manufactures its clothing. Further, only five products come from ADC. Kate Spade seems to care about ethics for advertising, but they do not push for real change. What would it look like if all of Kate’s products came from a supplier such as ADC? What would it look like if we as consumers pushed for this? Kate Spade has made good progress, but they have a lot of progress left to make.