What a day yesterday turned into. I went to photograph a protest organised by Labour Behind the Label. Their "Killer Jeans" campaign calls for the banning of a technique of sandblasting denim which is causing respiratory disease in the workers that do it, and killing many of them.
Sandblasting is done manually in countries such as Turkey and Bangladesh. Workers fire sand at the clothes under high pressure. The dust in the environment exposes workers to silica which causes a lung disease called silicosis. The disease is incurable and workers eventually die because they can't breathe properly.
Sandblasting is not the only way to get that highly prized, distressed look into your jeans - ever thought of just wearing them out, for example? (Never mind the sarcasm...)
LBL are targeting some of the posher brands at first, to get them to ban sandblasting in the production of the products they sell. Versace and Gucci, and the less posh Levi's and H&M have all agreed to stop sandblasting. But Dolce & Gabbana were holding out. Even though the evidence was presented to them of what sandblasting does they said they just weren't interested in discussing the campaign.
So LBL took a few people to the D&G shop on Bond Street yesterday for a protest. Among them was Abdulhalim Demir, a Turkish guy in his 30s and a former sandblasting worker who is ill from silicosis. This is what he says:
My illness has progressed to 46 percent of my lungs. I can’t do physical work, I can’t run or climb. If I catch a cold, it is very dangerous for me. I am short of breath all the time and I can’t talk. In many cases I have to go to hospital for a month and get direct oxygen.Halim has three children.
When I got to Bond Street I discovered that I had been cast as an undertaker. That is how I came to be standing in the baking heat in a top hat and tails outside Dolce & Gabbana, being snapped by tourists and a professional photographer. I don't think I'm holding my cane correctly, but I do think I actually make quite a good lady undertaker. I notice too that I look more and more like my dear departed paternal grandmother each day. (Best not speculate on whether this latter fact is connected to the former. I muttered to the guy on my right, fellow campaigner Justin Baidoo, that perhaps we should go into business.
We persuaded Abdulhalim that if he wanted to catch his flight back to Turkey he probably shouldn't put a paving stone through D&G's window; he took a turn in the top hat and tails instead. In the picture below you can see him against a backdrop of a D&G shop minion carrying Madame's bags to her waiting chauffeur-driven car. D&G is that kind of shop.
Please join in this email action to shame Dolce & Gabbana into joining the increasing and much needed ban against sandblasting - Dolce & Gabbana: Ban Killer Jeans