By Pia A. Gaarder
South Pole jackets tagged with "Made in Myanmar" is sold in several of Flavas five stores. The guilted anoraks are also sold through Flavas website. South Pole is an american brand which gets their products from several Asian countries, including Burma.
Flava's five stores are localised in Oslo, Strømmen, Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger. The Flava-stores have got a kind of cult-status among certain youths, and profile themselves as leaders in "the hottest urban streetwear in Norway." The company Flava DA was established in 1997.
Lack of knowledge
John Lee Timuri tells NorWatch that he didn't know that Myanmar was another name for Burma. He didn't know either that the democratically elected in Burma urges full boycott of the country.
- This is knowledge that tradesmen doesn't have. At least not me. We can guarantee for all products ordererd in 2001, but before that we don't have a proper survey. I will in no way support a military-regime. I have myself lived in South Africa and know how it is, says Lee.
But how is it that you sell products from Burma?
- To say it straight out, the anoraks are ordered directly from South Pole in the US. It is an American brand and we did not think that this could create problems with the country of origin. The jackets in question was ordered three years ago. They are old, and we haven't ordered more products from South Pole since. Had we known these were products from Burma, we would have chosen not to take them in. We will of course do this from now on, Lee promises.
NorWatch asks what will happen to the jackets now. Lee says straight out that they will not be pulled out from the stores.
The jackets are going to be sold. We have already paid for them, and can't send them back to South Pole. It has gone too much time. It will not help the people of Burma if I pull out these anoraks, says Lee Timuri.
Removed Burma clothes
The spotlight on Burma-produced brands in clothing stores rocketed publication with the report "Burma, Norway and clothes" made by Kirkens Nødhjelp and Borgen Production last spring. The goal was to check the effects of PM Kjell Magne Bondevik's call on boycott in 1997, and to find out in what stores clothing produced in Burma was sold.
The report showed that the import from Burma sank right after the call on boycott, from ca 10 million NOK in 1997 to 4 million NOK in 1999. In 2000 the imports were again on 1997-levels. Figures NorWatch has retreived from Statistics Norway shows that 2001 was a all-time-high year for imports from Burma to Norway(refer with NorWatch 12/2001). The report also concluded that the Burma produced clothes were frequent in street- and boardwear-stores in Norway. Among the brands that were identified were Forum, Circa, s and Renegade.
The disclosures lead boardwear-store Paragon in Oslo to remove the Burma produced clothes from their shelves. The importers of the brands s, Circa and Forum made a statement that they would no longer import clothes from the military dictatorship of Burma
Norwatch Newsletter 1-2/02