Sneakers are made for fashion and comfort. But they’re also made for profit. And we’re not talking about resale.
When Jacques Slade — YouTube’s Kustoo — got delivered this special 1 of 1 sneaker, he knew it would be ‘something that he would enjoy’, but it quickly became evident that this was something completely different to what he expected.
As it turns out, the sneaker was commissioned by Thompson Reuters to highlight some disturbing facts about the sneaker, and to a wider extent, the fashion industries. It came boxed with this letter:
As you’ve probably figured out, the shoe you are unboxing was not made by a slave. It was made by someone receiving a fair wage in a factory with windows and ventilation. A place where workers are not beaten daily, sexually abused and threatened for their lives. A place with safe working conditions that millions of modern slaves will never have.
Every day, tiny hands are forces to sew clothes and shoes around the clock, working in factories that are not only illegal and unethical, but inhumane. Conditions so bad that factories have installed nets outside to prevent slaves from taking their own lives.
For those slaves, every second is significant, which is why we need to take action now. Only by working together can we free the 40 million slaves in bondage today all over the world.
To be clear, we’re not asking you to stop unboxing, or your fans to stop watching. We’re simply asking people to start asking the right questions and demand accountability.
What is the human price of the products you buy? Help end modern slavery at Trust.org.
If you can’t tell by now, it was hand-crafted by The Shoe Surgeon —to which he clearly drew inspiration from Virgil Abloh’s Off-White Air Jordan 1. The workmanship is, of course, incredible, but it’s the detailing slavery facts in shockingly inexcusable numbers that catches you right in the feels.
On the laces, it states that ‘57,000’ is the amount of slaves estimated to be working in the United States today
On the tongue, ‘40,000,000’ shows the number of slaves put to work today alone, which is more than the amount recorded in all of history combined.
The paper wrapping declares a whopping 71 per cent of fashion companies know it’s likely that slaves are making their products.
If you’re not uncomfortable enough after those figures, the sole shows the discrepancy between the cost of a child slave today ($5) compared to the illegal profits made off slavery in a year ($150,000,000,000)
Thompson Reuters are realistic in their expectations; They understand people won’t go cold turkey on fashion items. What they are saying is we should all stop and think about who is making our sneakers, our clothing, our handbags, and educate ourselves on the ramifications of mass-production. Furthermore, we should be asking these questions to the brands we buy off. Let’s hold them accountable.
It’s heavy, uncomfortable and agonizing; everything sneakers shouldn’t be.
To donate or to learn more, head to Reuters.