Broken-in denim is a coveted look, but when a textile production technique causes more distress to the workers than the fabric, it’s time to find a better solution.
In 2011, Target Product Design & Development team began a close study of some of Levi & Strauss Co.’s recent findings on a production technique that was raising concern across the industry.
Sandblasting—the process of using high-pressure machines to blast sand onto denim, giving it a weathered look—contaminates the air garment workers breathe, which can lead to an incurable lung disease called silicosis. Through expanded research, the team found that even with strict safety standards and protective gear, sandblasting is an extreme health hazard.
Target has joined Levi’s and other industry leaders in taking a stand against the technique by banning it from our production process in favor of safer practices.
“The safety of factory workers should not be compromised for the sake of fashion,” says Jey John, lead fabric engineer for Denim and Wash on Target’s Product Design and Development team. “We hope that Target serves as a meaningful example to the apparel industry, both in the United States and around the world.”
Meanwhile, to continue bringing guests the worn-in denim looks they love, Target teams are working with vendors and other partners to discover alternative methods of distressing the denim, sans the harmful technique. For example, textile workers can distress denim by hand using safer tools. Target no longer carries any sandblasted products in stores or online.
A ban on sandblasting is just one example of how we hold ourselves and our partners accountable to high ethical standards. We continue to partner with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and National Resource Defense Council, among others, to find more solutions that align with our sustainability and responsible sourcing commitments across the company.
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