Remember a few weeks ago when activists dive-bombed the Versace facebook page demanding they stop the sandblasting process of their jeans, and they responded ever-so-gracefully by closing down their facebook wall? Well, it looks like the people have won.
“Italian fashion house bans sandblasting, a dangerous practice used to give jeans a ‘worn’ look, after 1,200 people called for action on Change.org. The Italian fashion house Gianni Versace has committed to ban the dangerous practice of sandblasting jeans, a technique used to give jeans a used look which is highly dangerous to workers.
The news follows a two-month international campaign by the Clean Clothes Campaign on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing social action platform. More than 1,200 people from all over the world joined the campaign.
Sandblasting is a process by which workers fire sand under high pressure at jeans. It has been known to kill workers in garment producing countries like Turkey and Bangladesh, where jean sandblasting is done manually. The large amounts of silica dust generated during sandblasting can cause silicosis, a potentially lethal pulmonary disease, as workers inhale tiny particles of silica.
Following pressure from over 1,200 activists, Versace conducted a review of its clothing suppliers and announced that, effective immediately, suppliers would be banned from using sandblasting.
“Following more recent CCC’s comments on Versace’s practices, the company decided to study the issue in depth again and concluded, in agreement with CCC, that it is appropriate to take a proactive stance, and stand against the practice of sandblasting,” said Versace’s Tomaso Galli in a letter to Change.org. “Versace has specifically asked every supplier (and will ask any new supplier as a condition to work with Versace) to certify that they are not using sandblasting.”
Galli said that any supplier found to be employing sandblasting as a production technique “will be considered in breach of contract and dismissed accordingly.”
“What has happened here is incredible,” said Meredith Slater, an organizer with Change.org. “Versace customers called on the company to ban a practice that endangered workers, and the company responded by saying that it would not only ban the practice, but stand up for the elimination of sandblasting throughout the industry.”
Versace joins Gucci, H&M and C&A in taking a stance against sandblasting and encouraging other jean producers to do the same. The Clean Clothes Campaign has now set its sights on the high-end brands Dolce & Gabbana and Armani, both of which still refuse to engage in dialogue about their brands’ sandblasting practices.”
In a word, awesome.
Tags: activism, change.org, clean clothes campaign, Gucci, sandblasting, silicosis, Versace
Italian luxury label Versace closed their facebook wall after a group of activists led by the Clean Clothes Campaign “ask” the label to stop using sandblasting techniques to distress their denim. And by “ask”, we mean post non-stop messages demanding the brand to stop. Sandblasting involves the firing of sand under high pressure at denim to give it a distressed look, and while the end result may look cool, the process creates extremely dangerous conditions for workers. Many factories have seen injuries and death as a result of arriving at trendy distressed denim by way of this method. While the activism was “shut down” for the moment with the removal of the facebook wall, Versace made a potentially damaging mistake. Their cowardly refusal to answer to consumers could add intense fuel to the fire. Blogs and news blasts everywhere are calling them out on “running away” from the problem. This could (if we’re lucky) inspire a a wave in safer production in top brands of the industry.
Image above via Allison Joyce, from her project “Fashion Victims: A Report On Sandblasting Denim“. Take a look at that link for a better idea of how serious this issue is.
Above, an X-ray showing a patient diagnosed with Silicosis as the result of administering sandblasting in a factory, from New Zealand Medical Journal.
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: activism, clean clothes campaign, facebook wall, lung damage, sandblasted denim, sandblasting denim, silicosis, Versace