Where Do Your Jeans Come From?

The main production floor at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City. It is using cutting-edge technology and innovative business models to minimize the harmful footprint of textile manufacturing. November, 2014.
The main production floor at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City. It is using cutting-edge technology and innovative business models to minimize the harmful footprint of textile manufacturing. November, 2014.

Workers apply coloured spray to jeans at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Workers apply coloured spray to jeans at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Workers operate large washing machines at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Workers operate large washing machines at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Workers hang jeans onto a large conveyor belt that naturally dries items at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex.
Workers hang jeans onto a large conveyor belt that naturally dries items at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex.

Workers sort through jeans at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Workers sort through jeans at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

A worker in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
A worker in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Workers in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Workers in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Pieces of denim lying on the floor in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Pieces of denim lying on the floor in the main sewing room at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

A worker sits on top of a huge pile of jeans that are about to be transported at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
A worker sits on top of a huge pile of jeans that are about to be transported at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Jeans on display in a showroom at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Jeans on display in a showroom at denim detailing company, Sai-Tex, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

I recently got a call from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s onEarth magazine to take on an interesting assignment that I thought I would share with you here today on the blog.

Have you ever wondered where your jeans come from? If you’ve followed my recent work, I hope you might of least thought about where your clothing in general has come from. You might remember my recent story from India, The Toxic Price of Leather, which highlighted the tragic situation playing out in the city of Kanpur which produces the largest amounts of leather in the country. Waste water from leather treatment is dumped untreated into local waterways and onto farmland causing terrible environmental damage and health problems in local people.

Having seen some of the worst the clothing industry could offer in developing Asia, I was curious to find out there was one factory in Vietnam that was apparently going in the other direction, consciously developing an eco-friendly approach to clothing production. That company was Sai-Tex, located just outside Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

The company primarily produces jeans which are distributed to outlets throughout Europe and North America. I spent two days at the factory documenting the production of jeans and the conditions of the workers. I was impressed by the set-up during my time there.

As you can see from the images, the facilities are very modern and the main work areas are lit by natural light, using large conveyor belts to naturally dry the jeans above the heads of the workers. Protective clothing and masks are available to workers and production is monitored by state of the art computers that keep track of operations. Solar panels on the roofs of the factories gather energy and water collection ponds trap rainwater for use in the factory.

Overall, it was very encouraging to see clothing production being done in this way. With a little more investment, better methods of protecting workers and the environment were clearly being implemented. The reality is that the demand for clothing, especially those made in the developing world where production is cheaper, will not diminish anytime soon. Companies that are making an effort to produce these goods in a more sustainable way should be highlighted which is why I wanted to share this work with you today.

To learn more, read onEarth’s full in-depth story in their article: MADE IN VIETNAM

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