INTERVIEW: Norway’s “Sweatshop Fashionistas,” In Their Own Words

by , 02/05/15   filed under: Features, Interviews, Q&A, Worker Rights

Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion, Aftenposten, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor, forced labor, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, workers rights, human rights, Norway, eco-fashion documentaries, eco-fashion films, Anniken Jørgensen, Frida Ottesen, Ludvig Hambro

Are you surprised by all the media attention?

Jørgensen: Not really. It’s only human to respond to [suffering]. This is the world we live in. Human exploitation is only one of the many terrible things that are happening right now.

Ottesen: Yes! The fact that Sweatshop got so big in Norway was a surprise. People starting to recognize me was also really surprising. Then the series gained popularity in the rest of the world, and Ashton Kutcher shared the trailer for the show! News outlets from France and Spain have also gotten in touch.

We consumers are the ones with the most power, so to hear that so many people care about this problem is enormously gratifying. That means we’re headed in the right direction.

“Ashton Kutcher shared the trailer for the show!” —Frida Ottesen

I want the future to be a place where I can live with honor, and that can only happen if we all strive together to make it better.

Hambro: I’m indeed surprised by all the media attention, but I’m happy the show has gotten it. However, I hope it helps the cause and that all the attention and viewers mean a turning point for this industry.

These people need to little to have a proper life; it’s just raw cynicism from big brands and third-party manufacturing companies that prevents it. They can’t defend what they do any longer, and I hope all this attention means a change for Sokty and other garment workers.

Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion, Aftenposten, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor, forced labor, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, workers rights, human rights, Norway, eco-fashion documentaries, eco-fashion films, Anniken Jørgensen, Frida Ottesen, Ludvig Hambro

What advice would you give people who want to consume more ethically?

Jørgensen: So what should you do? Spread the word; that will terrify the clothing chains into making changes. The fact that the entire world is now beginning to see the episodes makes me so happy.

Ottesen: Ask the cashier where the clothes are made and under what conditions. Be critical! Find out where you can buy ethical clothing in your community. (I bet they have lots of fancy and cool clothes there you can buy without feeling guilty.)

Also, spread the word with friends and family. Show them Sweatshop. If you have a blog, blog about it! If you have Instagram, share a picture! If you’re a politician, make a speech! Everybody should use his or her voice for what it’s worth!

“The message in Sweatshop isn’t that we should all stop buying clothes.” —Ludvig Hambro

Hambro: I think it’s important that we look at the tag when we buy clothes, and try buying clothes from countries with better conditions if it’s possible. However, it’s also important to keep buying clothes from places like Cambodia because they need the jobs.

I think it’s important that we don’t overindulge in clothes. Yes, you can afford to buy a new T-shirt per week, but will it make you happy, and do you really need it when you know where it comes from?

The message in Sweatshop isn’t that we should all stop buying clothes; it’s that we have to open our eyes and respect where they come from and the people that made it. It’s to make people open their eyes so we can put pressure on the garment industry.

I do think the responsibility lies with the brands themselves. If we paid only $2 more per garment, the wages of these people would double and the industry would still make the same profit. I imagine the CEOs of these brands would still be able afford a nice house or a brand new sports car even if their salaries were cut in half.

My advice is this: Don’t stop buying clothes, but open your eyes to where they come from and think twice. Try to do your best to spread the message across the globe so we can make a difference.

KEEP READING: THE TROUBLE WITH H&M >

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One Response to “INTERVIEW: Norway’s “Sweatshop Fashionistas,” In Their Own Words”

  1. brooke vlasich says:

    I enjoyed hearing the bloggers point of view to see their reasons for joining the show, how their expectations changed, and what they learned. Once you have to be in someone else’s position it changes everything you thought and saw. I always want to see the world through another person’s eyes to challenge what I think so I can help the world better.

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