Success: Jeans 
 sandblasted denim 

Campaign win – worker safety increased

After hearing from partners in Turkey that workers were dying due to a denim process that makes jeans look worn out, Labour Behind the Label launched the Killer Jeans campaign calling on brands and retailers to ban ‘sandblasting’ used to fade and distress denim. This process is linked to the fatal lung disease called silicosis, caused by excessive dust particles in the lungs leading to infection.

As well as publishing new research about denim, and having activists insert messages into the pockets of jeans in shops, we held a funeral march outside Dolce & Gabbana where we marched a coffin to their store, laid flowers and read out the names of people who had died from silicosis after sandblasting jeans. We worked with journalists on a number of media reports also in national UK newspapers.

This action alongside other international efforts resulted in many high street companies supporting public bans on the process for their products, including Levis, H&M, New Look, M&S and more, and eventually a national ban for all of Turkey was issued by the Turkish government.

How did we win? 

What campaigners did: Put little messages in the pockets of jeans in shops telling brands to ban sandblasting, held a funeral service outside Dolce & Gabbana’s Central London store to highlight the deaths linked to sandblasting jeans, and took part in online and postcard actions to pressure UK high street brands to ban sandblasted denim

What LBL staff did: We produced two reports, and series of photos about sandblasted denim proving the link between sandblasting and worker death due to the lung disease silicosis. This was covered in a number of major news outlets in the UK, and across Europe. We worked with the Italian Clean Clothes Campaign to lobby D&G, coordinating action with campaign groups in 10 European countries.

The result: Many high street names and luxury brands issued a ban on sandblasted denim or agreed to phase it out over time.