'Vintage' jeans blasted
NGOs attack sandblasting of new denim
All generations mock the fashion follies of the last. Once our kids have forgiven us for running down their fossil fuels, wrecking the planet, doing nothing to stop global poverty etc, they may ask:
“Why did men expend so much time, effort and hair product to achieve a 'just out of bed' look?”
“Why did people need their own version of outfits worn once a month?”
“And why did you pay extra for new jeans that had been half-destroyed to make them look old?”
The latter might soon fall out of fashion. And it will owe nothing to taste. Spearheaded by the Clean Clothes Campaign, labour organisations around the world are calling for a ban on 'sandblasting' – a technique used to 'age' denim jeans.
The technique is simple: load an airblaster with sand, silicon or any other fine grit; then unleash a pressurised barrage onto the thighs, knees, crotch of the jean. This simple technique adds a veneer of 'authenticity' for workshy fashionistas in the West. Sandblasting is certainly profitable for whoever runs the dust-filled workshop – the hidden cost is borne by the workers.
More than 5,000 workers in the Turkish textile industry have been stricken with silicosis – an occupational form of respiratory disease, chronic amongst 16th century miners. 46 people are known to have died and Turkey's government banned the practice in March 2009. Workers in China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico and Egypt inter alia have no such protection.
Now the Turkish-based Solidarity Committee of Denim Sandblasting Labourers, together with the Clean Clothes Campaign, and the US-based International Labor Rights Forum are calling on governments to ban imports of these products. Jeans producer Levi-Strauss and fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) have already announced they will stop selling sandblasted jeans for this reason.
Let's hope this is the beginning of the end for an absurd sartorial fad.