One of the curious things about 21st Century clothing consumption is the desire from some consumers for a product which, when new, looks ripped, worn and generally beaten up. It’s like paying extra for a car with dents and scratches and covered in mud! Although the ripping of jeans doesn’t cause problems in the supply chain as far as we know, other processes to create a worn look have caused concern amongst campaigners.
Most companies lost half a mark under workers’ rights for having no sandblasting policy. Sandblasting can be used to give denim a worn or ‘distressed’ look.
The process involves firing abrasive sand onto denim under high pressure, whether in a machine booth or simply via an air gun attached to a hose. Often performed without proper ventilation, safety equipment or training, the practice exposes workers to serious risk of silicosis, the deadly lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust.
Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi’s, Diesel, Guess, Wrangler, Lee, Thought, Finisterre, Howies, Pepe, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were all marked down for no or insufficient policies on sandblasting.
Due to the fact that this issue had been raised a number of years ago, all companies selling denim were expected to have a policy against the use of sandblasting, regardless of whether they currently had any distressed jeans for sale.