These Shocking Labels Expose the Human Cost of Cheap Clothes

There's more to your clothes than where they were made.

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Unless you already choose to buy only ethically sourced threads, the majority of the clothes you wear every day were probably made in a sweatshop, under labor conditions that you'd find barbaric. It's this unpleasant reality that the Canadian Fair Trade Network is trying to highlight with a new ad campaign.

The organization recently partnered with ad agency Rethink Communications on a project called "The Label Doesn't Tell the Whole Story." The results are striking.

The goal of the campaign is to encourage shoppers to seek out fair trade clothing.

The campaign consists of three posters, each depicting an article of clothing with an almost comically long label. Each label details the day-to-day struggles of the individual who made it. According to Fast Company, all of the stories are true, which makes them all the more sobering.

Here's an example:

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.

The goal of the campaign is simple: to encourage shoppers to seek out fair trade clothing. But as Fast Company notes, it can be very difficult to find. Fair Trade USA offers a list of brands that sell fair trade clothing, but it's remarkably small.

If you're looking for another way to fight sweatshop labor, the Canadian Fair Trade Network encourages you to participate in the upcoming Fashion Revolution Day on April 24th. The holiday encourages people to wear clothing inside out to display the labels, and to share where their clothing was made on social media.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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