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Blast-off sandblasted jeans

By: Emily, posted in: Fashion Global village
28 Sep 2011.
Four billion pairs of jeans are made every year, but at what price?

Oxfam welcomes Just Group’s public announcement today, Sept 23, banning the purchase of sandblasted jeans.  The company has committed to sell out all remaining stock and not place any further orders for sandblasted jeans.

In this situation, banding together made a difference because public support about sandblasting forced the Just Group to take notice.

“Just Group has taken an important first step today,” said Oxfam Australia’s Director of Policy James Ensor.

Oxfam Australia had been calling on the company to ban the dangerous denim finishing technique and demonstrate that its overseas suppliers are not putting their workers’ health at risk.

The Just Group owns Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Jacqui E, Portmans, Dotti and Peter Alexander.

But what is sandblasting? It's the textile technique that gives your jeans that trendy 'used', faded look. Its side-effects are decidedly less stylish. Sandblasting causes the irreversible lung disease silicosis. This literal rotting of the lungs was prevalent in workers in Victorian England. Fast-forward through 150 years of workplace reform to now and it shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong. In 2009 more than 5,000 textile workers in Turkey were diagnosed with silicosis. Atleast 46 of them have died.

denimSandblasting was outlawed by Britain in 1950 and by Europe in 1966. Turkey banned sandblasting in March 2009 but with limited workplace regulations and a soaring demand for faded jeans, the practice continues in countries where manufacturing is cheap: China, Bangladesh, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico and Pakistan.

Fortunately today, there's new eco-friendly techniques that emulate sandblasting.

With fashions labels worldwide banning sandblasting (Levi's, Zara, H&M, Karen Millen, Versace, Gucci, Espirit, Diesal), there's really no excuse for consumers to continue fuelling the trend.

“Oxfam is encouraging all Australian retailers selling denim products to follow Just Group’s example and implement a ban on sandblasting,” said Mr Ensor.

You can find out more about the international Clean Clothes Campaign and their six steps to ban sandblasting here

Images: Casey David. Some rights reserved.
New denim by Karl StropeSome rights reserved
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