The Starbury One is being produced and retailed by Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear. As Howard Schacter from Steve and Barry’s told sports columnist Dave Zirin, “The vision we shared with Stephon was to eliminate the incredible pressure kids and parents feel to pay top dollar for the latest and coolest sneakers and clothes. What we’re saying is, You can pay a lot less for these things.”

Zirin writes:

“But the Starbury One — because of both its price and the fact that it is being marketed as footwear for social justice — has also invited scrutiny. The athletic shoe industry is notorious for some of the most appalling of sweatshop conditions. Are the Starbury Ones, made in China, produced in such a manner?

Schacter says no. ‘We are a member of the Fair Labor Association,’ he says [editorial note: the FLA is an organization funded and controlled by the apparel industry as a public relations mouthpiece]…. costs are kept low because their business model ‘eliminates the middleman’ by producing their own product and selling them in Steve and Barry’s stores. They also rely on word-of-mouth instead of national advertising campaigns.

But some leading anti-sweatshop activists doubt this claim precisely because the shoe is manufactured in China. Jim Keady is a former professional soccer player and coach at St. John’s University who is now co-director of the anti-sweatshop organization Educating for Justice: ‘One of the key ways to define a sweatshop is whether workers have the right to develop an independent, democratic voice in the workplace either by creating a worker-owned cooperative or an independent trade union,’ he said…. ‘In China both cooperatives and independent trade unions are illegal, and therefore I would bet my professional reputation that these shoes are produced in sweatshop conditions.’

Scott Nova, from the Worker Rights Consortium, an anti-sweatshop monitoring group, also disagreed with Schacter’s confidence in Steve and Barry’s labor practices. ‘We have found serious human rights violations in factories producing for Steve and Barry’s,’ [he said]…. ‘It is laudable that Steve and Barry’s is offering affordable sneakers,’ Nova continued. ‘But there is another side to the moral equation: the workers who make the shoes. What are they paid? And what are their conditions of work? Ignoring worker rights could transform a worthy endeavor into another case of sweatshop exploitation. If the low price of these shoes means sweatshop conditions and sub-poverty wages for the workers who make them, then the positive purpose of the enterprise is severely undermined. Stephon Marbury is obviously trying to do something positive and deserves to be applauded for it. Addressing the worker rights issues will enhance his effort.'”

League of Fans applauds Stephon Marbury for trying to do something positive. Kids basketball heroes market — almost exclusively — high-priced sneakers, and encourage kids to buy them even if they can’t afford them. Marbury is trying to change that. But we hope Marbury, along with Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear really “change the game” and fight for social justice by ensuring that the Starbury One (and the rest of Marbury’s line) is not produced in sweatshop conditions.

We urge Marbury, and Steve and Barry’s to ensure:

– a living wage that allows workers to meet their basic needs;

– recognition of independent unions, and factory management that collectively bargains with these unions in good faith; and

– a program of factory monitoring through international unions and human rights organizations that are credible and completely independent of the company.

Take Action!

Write to Stephon Marbury and Steve and Barry’s and commend them for their work in offering affordable, well-made sneakers, and urge them to ensure that the Starbury One (and the rest of Marbury’s line) is not produced in sweatshop conditions.

Howard Schacter
chief partnership officer and co-manager of the Starbury brand
Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear
12 Harbor Park Dr.
Port Washington, NY 11050
Phone: (516) 829-4730
Fax: (516) 570-8221

Stephon Marbury
New York Knicks
2 Pennsylvania Plaza, 14th Fl.
New York, NY 10121-0091
Phone: (212) 465-6471
Fax: (212) 465-6498

Barry Prevor and Steven Shore, Co-CEO’s
Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear
12 Harbor Park Dr.
Port Washington, NY 11050
Phone: (516) 829-4730
Fax: (516) 570-8221

For more information on the sweatshop issue, visit:

United Students Against Sweatshops

Worker Rights Consortium

National Labor Committee

FLA Watch

Educating for Justice


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.