What’s in a Label?

There’s often more to our clothing labels than meets the eye, and this new campaign from the Canadian Fair Trade Network is taking transparency to whole new heights – or should that be lengths? The series of printed adverts promote fairtrade buying habits by taking a hoodie, a blazer and other common items of clothing and adding a few more details about their provenance than most customers would probably bargain for. Anecdotes printed on the oversized labels describe different scenarios where clothes are typically made, and they are far from tall tales. Industrial accidents in Bangladesh, child labour in Cambodia, below-standard wages – these are just some of the issues garment workers face today. The red hoodie pictured above tells the story of Tejan:

“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.”

Each image concludes with the message that ‘This label doesn’t tell the whole story’, a reminder that there’s often a tragic legacy lurking behind the tiny tags on our clothes. In a few weeks time, you can follow the message of this campaign and turn your own shirt inside out for Fashion Revolution Day 2015, baring all to mark the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.