“You think you know; you think you know it’s bad… but you don’t know how bad it is before you see it.”
“What sort of life is this,” asks 17-year-old fashion blogger Anniken Jørgensen, one of the stars of a five-part online reality show that puts fashionistas face to face with the people who provide most of clothes for today’s “fast fashion” movement.
An experiment by Norway newspaper Aftenposten, the project flew three young fashion bloggers to Cambodia—home to a textile industry notorious for poor working conditions and terrible pay—where they then essentially lived alongside workers for a month in 2014. The emotional effect is palpable. Jørgensen, along with bloggers Frida Ottesen and Ludvig Hambro, were totally shocked.
Hambro, equally circumspect, compares life in Norway with living in a bubble. “You think you know; you think you know it’s bad,” Hambro says. “But you don’t know how bad it is before you see it.”
Jørgensen was the most effected by the experience.
After hearing a story from a woman whose mother died—essentially of starvation—when she was still a baby, Jørgensen breaks down crying. “Her mother did not die because of illness or because she was killed,” she says. “She starved to death because they did not have money for food.”
Otteson felt that the corporations utilizing the labor were responsible for the terrible conditions.
Ottesen jabs her finger at apparel giants like H&M. “I don’t understand why the big chains, like H&M, don’t act?” she says. “H&M is a big company with massive amounts of power. Do something! Take responsibility for your employees.”
All five episodes of the reality series can be seen for free here.