Retail chain Target is among the latest in the slew of clothing companies who are stopping the practice of sandblasting their clothing for the sake of fashion due to the health risks associated with the process.
Sandblasting is the process used to create that slightly distressed, “worn-out” look desired by many a fashionista since the 1980’s, created by firing silica at high pressure onto the denim.
However, the super fine particles of silica dust can result in a fatal pulmonary disease called silicosis, an incurable form of lung cancer, if inhaled.
Target follows the example set by Levi's and H&M who stopped selling their distressed denim collections back in 2010, in a response to pressure from organizations such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was formed at the beginning of 2011 with labels, in alphabetical order, Adidas, Esprit, Gap, H&M, Levi Strauss, Nike, Nordstrom, Patagonia, PUMA, Timberland, and Walmart joining their cause for socially responsible apparel manufacture.
In Australia, groups like Oxfam are getting local jeans manufacturers such as Just Jeans to stop sandblasting their denim line with continued success.
In the summer of 2011, Facebook wall for a short time.also stopped sandblasting when pressured by the Clean Clothes Campaign and Change.org and was reportedly even forced to shut down its
Fashion label Armani also went on the release a statement that they have ceased to use the process of sandblasting starting with their Autumn/Winter 2011/2012 collection, which they posted on both Facebook and Twitter.
Does this mean the death of the distressed look in denim? Absolutely not, since there are other ways by which the look can be achieved, such as scraping the denim fibers using safer tools and methods.
This may be a more laborious, hand applied process but certainly worth the extra trouble if it means saving the lives of apparel workers in factories!