In an old brick warehouse in a Chinese boomtown, workers scrub thousands of jeans before dawn. The machines they use to remove layers of fabric shoot particles of lung-clogging blue dust into the air. In an adjacent part of town, their boss sits among fellow factory owners in a restaurant, ready for another toast: “To the millionaires!”.
The historic cloth of workers, blue jeans now become worn-out not through rugged labour, but industrial distressing. The process is outsourced to countries like China, where cheap wages and lax environmental controls allowed the rapid growth of a labour-intensive industry drenched in toxic chemicals.