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Looping the value chain: Designer copies in a brand-name garment factory

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 16:36 authored by Rebecca PrenticeRebecca Prentice
This chapter concerns itself with a garment factory in Trinidad, West Indies, producing brand-name clothing for the Eastern Caribbean market. Workers in this factory not only stitch garments for an hourly wage; but also stealthily operate a secondary assembly line, creating precise duplicates of the factory's products for themselves to take home and wear. Manufactured on the shop-floor alongside 'legitimate' production, the copied garments are identical in every way to the genuine ones they mimic. In this chapter, I argue that workers have created a 'loop' in the value chain: a simultaneous moment in which they are both producers and consumers of the factory's products. While 'genuine' garments circulate through market-capitalist networks of exchange, copied garments only circulate through social networks, thereby accruing and representing forms of 'value' that are distinct from market value. By looping the value chain, factory workers create non-market values alongside market-oriented ones, showing both sets of values to be interdependent. Workers' own commentary on these processes offers a unique window onto contested meanings of 'value' at work on the shop-floor.


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  • Published


Research in Economic Anthropology





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  • Anthropology Publications

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