You Can’t Stop Change.org

A little website with a hopeful name is the latest evidence that the Internet is living up to its promise of making the world a better place—even the impenetrable, balky fashion world.


Normally, but not always, the online petition site Change.org focuses on fairly predictable issues and shames fairly predictable wrongdoers. Recent petition headlines read: “Subaru: Stop Selling Cars Where Women Can’t Drive,” “Tell the FBI: Rape is Rape!”, and “U.S. Senate: Support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act”

But as of late, Change.org has been aiming its daggers at fashion houses. A recent campaign accused Versace of practicing sandblasting, a dangerous method of distressing denim that involves workers firing sand at jeans under high pressure. The large amount of silica dust that’s generated can cause silicosis, a potentially lethal pulmonary disease, as workers inhale tiny particles of silica. Documented deaths have occurred in Turkey, Bangladesh and other countries where sandblasting is done manually.

To its credit, Versace (eventually) banned the practice and managed to turn the awkward situation into a PR opp, putting out a statement announcing their reversal and stipulating that any supplier found to be employing sandblasting would be in breach of contract. This follows similar moves by Levi’s, H&M, and Gucci.

Now Dolce & Gabbana is facing Change.org’s sting, accused of the same harmful practice. More than 25,000 online activists have signed a petition for the campaign, Stop the Killer Jeans, demanding its disuse. So far, no change. In fact, Dolce & Gabbana has stated publicly they have no intention of abolishing sandblasting.

But high-minded folks don’t give up easily. So when Dolce & Gabbana deleted posts by Change.org members on its Facebook wall, the organizers of the campaign only stepped up their efforts, saying, “[The campaign] has now launched an impressive social media campaign and recruited tens of thousands of supporters from all over the world to demand that Dolce & Gabbana follow in the footsteps of their competitors and ban sandblasting.”

We pretty much know how this will turn out. Still, you should visit the campaign page on Change.org and witness firsthand how fashion is being changed for the better, one pair of jeans at a time.

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