Chubby seal pillow vs. child labor?
December 16, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a cute seal pillow I found. It's for sale various places around the internet, and appears to be based on a seal named Suki at the Osaka Aquarium. However, it is made in China and the places selling it have no real info available about it or themselves. Should I assume that it was made in a factory with abusive conditions, child labor, etc., and try to find a different seal pillow entirely? Is there any way to find out for sure?
posted by cnidaria to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you make one of your own?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:41 PM on December 16, 2019

I know that pillow, and I just want to say that I'm more than a bit surprised seeing it on Etsy for only $35 (and listed under Handmade) when the official one retails for over $60. The two seal pillows are a collaboration with Felissimo's YOU+MORE! brand and the Osaka Aquarium (Japanese announcement). If that Etsy link is a reseller, I have no idea why it's half the price; they're usually more. Which leads me to believe it's probably an unofficial copy.

At this point, the two options are: 1. Buy official, expensive, made in China, some proceeds go to Osaka Aquarium; or 2. Buy counterfeit, cheap, most likely also made overseas. I'm not trying to guilt you for the cheaper choice, it's just... it doesn't seem like you can win either way with this specific pillow if you're looking to avoid cheap labor manufacturing.
posted by lesser weasel at 9:35 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm seeing the exact same version you're linking to, with the exact same pictures, on AliExpress for even less. Just because the seller on Etsy asks more for it, that doesn't mean it's made under better conditions.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:22 AM on December 17, 2019

I’d just like to say that made in China does not equal child labour and abusive conditions. There are certainly bad factories in China, but there are also very good ones.

If you buy the official version from the aquarium you’re more likely to have an audited supply chain than if you buy an unofficial knock-off. The reseller versions could be from the same factories (fallen off the back of the truck, resold wholesale, whatever) or they could be fakes. Fakeshop goods are pretty notorious for bad working conditions.

Felissimo isn’t a brand I particularly Know/trust, so there’s no guarantee you’re really getting better supply chain, but it’s more likely if you buy from a known brand. For whatever that is worth.
posted by frumiousb at 5:27 AM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, just because they use the official picture on alibaba does not necessarily mean that is what you will receive. There are some pretty hilarious posts out there about Taobao picture versus reality.
posted by frumiousb at 5:29 AM on December 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

I’m mostly looking for if research / pulling back the veil on the manufacturing supply chain is even possible. Seems like no?

The Etsy link is 100% random, I am aware that it is sold many places around the internet and that Etsy shop is totally a fakeshop as well.

Would love to make it myself but I don’t know how to sew very well and have a backlog of home furnishing carpentry projects :-)
posted by cnidaria at 5:51 AM on December 17, 2019

No ethical consumption under capitalism, my friend. Getting it through the aquarium is just the "least worst".
posted by Jilder at 9:00 PM on December 17, 2019

I just found this source, and because the photos are the same I'd suggest it is incredibly likely the manufacturer is exactly the same for both this one and the aquarium. I'm not sure there are knock offs, this seems to be a product that the aquarium gift shop sourced from a third party vendor so may be exactly the same. Here's an idea - buy from wherever and then do a cash donation to the Osaka Aquarium, or donate to a good charity that works to prevent child labor.
posted by belau at 5:43 AM on December 18, 2019

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