Stylebook: Target to drop sand-blasted apparel

March 6, 2012 1:55 pm

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The pursuit of style can be many things: silly, seductive, sophisticated, daring -- and, in some cases, deadly.

Retail chain Target announced that by the end of the year it will no longer carry apparel that uses sandblasting to achieve a worn appearance due to health hazards the process can pose to garment workers.

Sandblasting involves exposing denim to high-pressure spurts of sand that can contaminate work conditions and lead to silicosis, a serious lung condition.

"Target really is committed to maintaining an ethical business practice, and we certainly carry that to our relationship with our vendors," said spokeswoman Jessica Carlson. "We really thought this was the right thing to do, to ban sandblasting and make sure we were providing safe and healthy methods of production."

The disease is common among miners and usually develops after years of exposure to tiny rock and sand particles called silica, said Luis Ortiz, associate professor and director of the division of environmental and occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health. He also serves as an associate professor in the pulmonary division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Sandblasting puts people in contact with such "an unbelievable amount" of these particles that medical complications tend to arise more quickly.

"There is no real cure for this disease," Dr. Ortiz said.

Target is not the first retailer to say "no" to sandblasting. Levi Strauss & Co. and H&M instituted similar bans in 2010 and have since explored safer alternatives, such as hand sanding. Target also is researching other ways to give clothes a distressed look without the danger, Ms. Carlson said.

"It just takes a little while to develop [new methods] and then phase everything out."

Also of note ...

Pittsburgh Fashion Week volunteers needed: Informational meetings will be held today and Thursday for those interested in helping at the third annual Pittsburgh Fashion Week on Sept. 24-30 at multiple venues across the city. Gatherings will take place in the gallery of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. RSVP with name, phone number and meeting preference to Learn more about Pittsburgh Fashion Week at

To have a style or fashion event considered for Stylebook, send listing to Sara Bauknecht at
First Published 2012-03-05 23:06:34

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