By Vanessa Voigt
POSTED September 15, 2011
MBFW NEW YORK
Guli Attempts to Shine at MBFW but Only Gets Shunned
Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan President Ismlam Karimov, spins clothes with the cotton millions of Uzbek children are forced into harvesting each year. For humanitarian
reasons, IMG disinvited her, and even at a new venue, the Guli brand was met with aggressive protests.
A crowd of protesters formed outside Cipriani's on 42nd Street for Guli’s spring/summer 2012 fashion show, where one child held up a sign reading “Stop Child Labor.” As spectators
waited in line, one man handed out International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) literature, which outlined forced child labor in Uzbekistan, where Guli designer Gulnara Karimova’s father,
President Islam Karimov, has reigned as dictator since 1990.
According to the United Nation’s labor agency, the International Labor Organization (ILO), millions of Uzbekistan children are taken out of school every year to slave long hours in cotton
fields. According to the ILRF, they suffer from extremely long hours of physical labor, barely enough means to survive, denial of education, and exposure to harmful pesticides, leading to
respiratory diseases such as meningitis and hepatitis.
After strong protests from human rights activists and an alarming report from The New York Post on September 8, IMG first asked Karimova to cancel her show, and upon her refusal, they
formally disinvited her. In a follow-up report from the The Post, a spokesman for Guli said the show was relocated "for security reasons," but at the “safer” venue, Karimova was a no show.
The turnout was small, and as the clothes made their way down the runway, it was a blatant reminder of the exploited children behind the cotton. There is not much to avoid with this line - it
According to CottonCampaign.org, more than 60 companies and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents 800 brands, including Walmart and Target,
are pledged to not use Uzbekistan cotton. According to ILRF, Uzbekistan is the world’s sixth largest producer of cotton, and the third largest exporter.
To find out what brands you can support, visit apparelandfootwear.org.