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The nation’s largest discount retailer, Wal-Mart, is out to change the face of retailing, and it is not waiting until tomorrow to do it.  In a totally revolutionary directive, Wal-Mart has moved into the “green earth” fray, fashioning itself as a prime mover in documenting product brand “sustainability.”  The company will now rate each of the products it carries on the basis of its comparative impact on the earth’s fragile ecosystems—social, environmental, and economic.  Then, the products and their ratings are to be published on a new GREEN INDEX for review by manufacturers as well as consumers.  This is startling!


BUT … KEEP READING!   The Wal-Mart Index will provide criteria for manufacturers to view their “green ranking” alongside those of their competitors.  The Index will make it possible for professional buyers and consumers to make informed decisions in choosing “the best” from the many options offered in each market by major sources — many of which service our fashion and accessories industries.  The impact goes far beyond our field, and even our shores, to global concerns and goals.


                                               Profound Impact


THIS IS A REMARKABLE instance of a single retailer taking outstanding, long-term actions outside of its normal business limits, not only to benefit itself but to benefit society as a whole.  It is a prime example of good corporate citizenship.  Clothing designer Norma Kamali, herself a “green” practitioner (using organic cotton in her fashions) speaks admiringly of the Wal-Mart Index:    “The impact Wal-Mart will have with the green initiative is profound… and new innovations will be developed as we all participate in the greening of our planet.”


   —You’ll remember the 2006 film, “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo di Caprio.  This adventure film was all about diamonds mined in African war zones which were sold to help finance and prolong local warlords’ battles.  Stories of bloodshed, exploited workers and rampant smuggling led consumers to demand an end to violence and abuse, by insisting that the origin of diamonds they would purchase be certified.  The increased awareness spurred by the movie also aided international efforts to curb the trade in what was called “conflict diamonds.”


WAL-MART’S NEW INITIATIVE is aimed at bringing about comparable change in the way the products it carries are made and marketed.  While more and more manufacturers are already getting on board to improve work conditions, to utilize sustainable materials, and to minimize their company’s “carbon footprint” in daily operations, the discounter’s ongoing Green Index is certain to intensify their efforts.


 “Wal-Mart,” said one manufacturer, “is holding its suppliers accountable for the impact each has all along the chain.”


Wal-Mart’s actions are more than domestic.  Last fall the company conducted a “sustainability” conference in China, focused on encouraging high levels of manufacture/business practice.  One of Wal-Mart’s stated goals in devising the Index is to build a “world-class, high-value supply chain” – including its Chinese sources.






  • Shield-shaped earrings in rich green turquoise.  Earthy. 

NEAR EAST MYSTIQUE: Wild prints, deep, saturated colors, and rich, bedazzling jewels:  all are on hand to give this fall’s clothing and accessories a rich, exotic flavor.  Portraits of Northern Africa and Asia fill the designers’ canvases as they conjure up new images with ancient hues and forms. 


Handbags feature beautifully soft leathers, heavily tooled, and fabulously colored in orange, purple, gold, blue-grey and black.  Long beads are large and drop to the waist. Exquisite metal objects with Middle Eastern scroll work hang from silver chains, tempting you to open them and discover possible fortunes. There is an unmistakable aura of secrecy and magic about it all.  Aladdin’s lamp with its power and prowess seems to await.  Who could resist?


BRASS COINS:  Coins of all sorts are offering a monied dimension to handbags and jewelry this season.  Look for plain, unstamped coins as well as ancient and modern coins.  It’s that circle thing.  It’s very, very big!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, July 30th, 2009

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