Fashion victims

That the fashion industry is struggling with sweat shops, child labour etc. is no news. That it often requires dirty production processes, we can figure out. But that our clothes are toxic cocktails that can make us sick (even labelled as organic) few people know. My knowledge got better after watching the documentary “Fashion victims” (“Modets offer”) (available to stream at Swedish Public Service television, svtplay¬†check it out now if you haven’t already)

Azo colours, Dimethylformamide (DMF, a de-humidifier), chlorinated organic compounds, heavy metals…chemicals forbidden in Europe and US, but used for coloring and treatments of clothes in China and Bangladesh (yes, even organic cotton-clothes have been treated with these compounds). Not only is it directly harmful to the textile workers, either slowly dying in cancer, or sudden in explosion accidents, caused by the chemicals. The chemicals are also spread with cargos around the globe, causing pain for workers exposed to the vapors from these toxics in large amounts – logistic workers, clothing store staff. And how about us, the customers? We are not spared. The documentary starts with a lady in Paris who got an allergic reactions from her newly purchased shoes, containing DMF. And she is not the only one.

So, what are the large manufacturers doing about it all? Hiding, and denying, to some extent.

To find real organic clothes, one has to turn to smaller brands, tied to International Association of Natural Textile Industry, and one has to pay more, naturally. These clothes today represents 1% of all clothes purchased.

T-shirt by Katharine Hamnett, Helvetas and the Environmental Justice. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) is a certification covering not only the cotton, but also the coloring and treatment


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