MILAN — Versace has become the latest fashion house to ban sandblasted denim from its offering, on the basis that the technique is dangerous to workers, following the likes of Gucci, Levi’s, Hennes & Mauritz and e-store C&A.
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The stance comes in the wake of a two-month international campaign set in motion by the Clean Clothes Campaign on Change.org, a social-action platform. More than 1,200 people worldwide have joined the campaign.
Following a comprehensive review to ensure that no sandblasting is performed by any of its suppliers, Versace decided to take a more proactive approach and join other industry leaders to encourage the elimination of sandblasting as an industry practice. To give a pair of jeans that distressed looked, workers fire sand under high pressure, a process that in countries like Turkey and Bangladesh is done manually with the consequence that the large amounts of silica dust generated can cause silicosis, a lethal pulmonary disease, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.
“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.”
The Clean Clothes Campaign also cited Dolce & Gabbana and Armani as companies that refuse “any dialogue about their sandblasting practices.”
However, a spokesman for Giorgio Armani said “in regard to the sandblasting finish applied to certain garments, the Armani Group wishes to make clear that this technique has been eliminated from our production processes.” Dolce & Gabbana declined to comment.