Publicis Groupe creative collective Le Truc and the Human Rights Foundation have unveiled a new installation at this week’s SXSW gathering in Austin, TX.
It’s called “Discounted Lives” and is designed to draw awareness to the link between fashion and forced labor.
In a statement the companies said, “The reality is that when we buy heavily discounted goods from countries that exploit workers we in fact discount their lives in every sense of the word.”
The work is the latest extension of HRF’s advocacy in partnership with the Coalition To End Forced Labour in The Uyghur Region, a coalition of organizations dedicated to ending human rights violations perpetrated against the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority people.
The Discounted Lives installation features two racks of white t-shirts, priced at either $4.99 or $44.99. The shirts are seemingly identical. So, why the price difference? The answer is on a receipt, which is printed with all the “discounts” applied to the cheaper item: facts and statistics about forced labor and its accompanying human rights violations, alongside portraits of real Uyghur forced-labor workers. The message “WHAT YOU SAVE COSTS THEM EVERYTHING,” featured on the receipt-printing pedestal, underscores the sobering truth of how some clothing is made so cheaply.
“The widespread use of Uyghur forced labor in the fashion industry is alarming, and it is reflective of a human rights crisis that impacts each of our daily purchasing decisions,” stated said Céline Assaf-Boustani, President of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). “More than one million innocent Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims are currently arbitrarily detained, working in forced labor camps across China.”
“What you save costs them everything,” added Assaf-Boustani, “their bodies, their families, their entire identities, and even their lives. It’s high time for both companies and consumers alike to no longer tolerate such modern-day slavery.”
Discounted Lives builds on Le Truc’s existing partnership HRF. Last year the collective launched “Voices from the Inside” in support of HRF’s Ukraine Solidarity Fund Operation Sunflower.