| July 10, 2006 at 01:35 pm
The whir of hundreds of sewing machines reverberates in the thick,
dusty air at the RIFU garment factory. Inside this large warehouse, behind a guarded metal fence, 300 employees—most of them Chinese women—cut, sew, iron and fold blouses with such efficiency and focus that they seem like machinery themselves. From piles of orange and pink fabric, the workers will produce over 15,000 garments today for J. Jill, Elie Tahari and Ann Taylor. These name brand companies don’t own the factory; like Liz Claiborne, The Gap, Ralph Lauren and others, they subcontract production to factories like this, scattered around the tiny Micronesian island of Saipan.