Selena Gomez Target of Sweatshop Protest at NY Fashion Week

Celebrity News Feb. 7, 2013 AT 6:00AM
Selena Gomez attends the Adidas NEO Label Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on February 6, 2013 in New York City. Selena Gomez attends the Adidas NEO Label Fall 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on February 6, 2013 in New York City. Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Selena Gomez got quite the surprise when she helped kick off New York Fashion Week on Wednesday: She became the target of a sweatshop protest.

While seated in the front row of the fashion show featuring Adidas’ NEO line – for which Gomez and teen fashion bloggers helped select the 30 looks that walked the runway – the 19-year-old was approached by a woman who handed her a flyer pleading with her to “be an ambassador for children, not sweatshops.”

The protester proceeded to walk along the front row, handing out copies to as many other event-goers as she could. According to an omg! reporter who attended the event, the woman made it nearly all around the runway before being caught and escorted out by security, at which point a fellow protester popped out of the audience armed with more flyers … and was quickly grabbed by security.

In addition to calling out Gomez, the flyer – put out by a group called United Students Against Sweatshops – claims, among other things, that Adidas has refused to pay $1.8 million in legally owed severance to thousands of workers in Indonesia, who, claims the group, in turn can’t send their children to school.

Outside the Midtown Manhattan show, 15 or so people – including two former sweatshop workers – had gathered, holding up a banner that read, “Selena: Don’t be an ambassador for sweatshops.”

“We’re here to tell Selena Gomez that she should cut ties with Adidas because Adidas has refused to pay severance to 2,800 garment workers who sewed its apparel for over 10 years,” Claire Lewis, a 22-year-old member of the group told omg!. “We’ve been campaigning for the last year.” Lewis and her group claim that of the companies that produced apparel in a now-shuttered Indonesian factory, Adidas is the only one that has refused to pay the mandated severance.

An Adidas rep had no comment in response to the allegations.

Once the outburst was over, the youth-focused fashion show went on as planned. Guests – many of whom were children attending with their moms – were greeted at the door with Dixie cups full of candy and were passed cupcakes and bright-green ginger lemongrass virgin drinks prior to the show.

As for how Lewis and her fellow members made their way into the event, sounds like they followed the rules on that one. “We had tickets. We won them,” Lewis explained. How? “Twitter.”

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