Jeans "a la mode": The true price, two years on

An investigation by Camellia Encinas
Broadcast January 7, 2011 on France 2

Mehmet is 40 years old and lives on borrowed time. He suffers from silicosis, an incurable disease that has vanished in Western Europe with the closing down of coalmines. But in this poor neighborhood of Istanbul, where we already filmed two years ago, we found dozens of other victims like Mehmet. All of them have poisoned lungs, polluted in the clandestine sweatshops manufacturing jeans, small-time subcontractors to the enormous jean industry. A fashion’s victim, Mehmet worked on an assembly line whitening jeans, using a technique to accelerate the fabric aging: sandblasting. A technique banned in the European Union. Two years ago, we told the story of these people who made jeans and followed their struggle for compensation. Their own lives being at stake. Two years on, what are they up to? Were the 5000 Turkish workers sick with silicosis able to make their voices heard? Did the major international brands that outsource their jean production to Turkey agree to compensate them? And is the sandblasting technique still being used?