STYLE

These Powerful Labels Show The True Stories Behind The Making Of A Clothing Item

04/02/2015 01:43 EDT | Updated 04/02/2015 01:59 EDT
The Canadian Fair Trade Network/Rethink Canada

Ever take a good look at your clothing label?

You may find where the item is made, the size, probably even some washing instructions (some more offensive than others). And while this information is useful, it doesn't quite tell the whole story behind the making of the item.

The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) is looking to change that.

The non-profit organization that works with civil society and industry stakeholders to advance awareness and support fair trade in Canada has teamed up with creative agency Rethink Canada for a powerful campaign that gives a voice to those making clothes in terrible working conditions.

The campaign features articles of clothing with a label that sheds light on what each person who made the clothing item went through. (Note: the source of the stories is unknown.)

clothing labels

This label reads:

"100% cotton. Made in Sierra Leone by Tejan. The first few times he coughed up blood he hid it from his family. They couldn’t afford medical treatment and he couldn’t risk losing his long-time job at the cotton plantation. When he fell into a seizure one day it could no longer be ignored. The diagnosis was pesticide poisoning. The lack of proper protective clothing has left him with leukemia at the age of 34. He has two daughters. One of them starts work at the factory next year. The label doesn’t tell the whole story."

Another label, which is sewn onto a blazer, tells the story of a young girl who left school to help support her family after her father died.

clothing label

"100% cotton. Made in Bangladesh by Joya who left school at the age of twelve to help support her two brothers and newly widowed mother. Her father was killed when a fire ripped through the cotton factory where he works. She now works in the building across the street from the burned down factory. A constant reminder of the risk she takes everyday. The label doesn’t tell the whole story."

Finally, the label on a yellow sweater reveals the terrible working conditions endured by a nine-year-old boy making less than a dollar a day.

clothing label

"100% cotton. Made in Cambodia by Behnly, nine years old. He gets up at 5:00 am every morning to make his way to the garment factory where he works. It will be dark when he arrives and dark when he leaves. He dresses lightly because the temperature in the room he works reaches 30 degrees. The dust in the room fills his nose and mouth. He will make less than a dollar, for a day spent slowly suffocating. A mask would cost the company ten cents. The label doesn’t tell the whole story."

The CFTN isn't the only organization looking to shed light on the stories behind the clothing, however. Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bagladesh, Fashion Revolution Day was born. The annual event, which takes place on April 24th, invites people all around the world to turn their clothes #InsideOut to show off the clothing label, take a selfie, and ask #whomademyclothes via their social media channels.

These two initiatives are a powerful way of reminding us what really goes on behind the making of our clothing, instead of taking an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to the issue.

To learn more about the CFTN's ongoing fight for fair trade practices, click here.

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