Targeting Better Health: Target Bans Sandblasted Jeans

It looks like sandblasted jeans may finally go the way of Hammer pants and big bangs. Target announced Tuesday that it will ban sandblasted denim from its stores by the end of this year to help protect garment workers' health.

Sandblasting, the process often used to get the oh-so-popular distressed look, uses high-pressure machines to blast sand onto jeans. Silica dust ends up in the air that workers breathe, sometimes causing an incurable lung disease called silicosis.

In its study of the process, Target found that it can be "extremely harmful" to workers, even with strict safety standards and protective gear, according to the announcement. The Turkish government banned sandblasting back in 2009 after reports that workers had died as a result.  

“The safety of factory workers should not be compromised for the sake of fashion,” Jey John, Target's lead fabric engineer for denim and wash, said in a statement. “We hope that Target serves as a meaningful example to the apparel industry, both in the United States and around the world.”

The retail giant joins Levi Strauss & Co, which called for the end of sandblasted jeans in partnership with Swedish  retail chain H&M in 2010. More than a dozen brands, such as Armani, Benetton, Burberry, Esprit, New Yorker and Versace, already participate in the ban. But big retailers such as Target could have the power to end the sandblasted-jeans trend for the masses.    

If you're a distressed-jeans junkie, don't fret: Manufacturers can get the same look by distressing jeans with scrapers or lasers. But if you're over it, here's a perfect excuse to avoid wearing – and get your friends to stop wearing – sandblasted jeans. Now if we could only find a way to stop people from wearing acid wash.

Photo courtesy of Artem Rudik via Shutterstock