NEW YORK, NY (Sept. 13, 2023) — On Tuesday, as New York Fashion Week (NYFW) comes to a close, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) projected images depicting the human costs of the industry on iconic landmarks and billboards across New York City.
According to the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, one in five cotton garments in the apparel industry worldwide are linked to Uyghur forced labor. HRF’s projections and billboards — seen at the Brooklyn Bridge, New Museum, and Hyatt Tower — urged onlookers to consider the lives behind their clothes: “What you save costs them everything.”
The projection campaign is part of HRF’s Discounted Lives initiative, first launched at the 2023 South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in collaboration with Le Truc, a creative collective within Publicis Groupe. The interactive installation displayed two racks of T-shirts, one listed at $4.99 and the other at $44.99. Receipts reveal the reasons behind the price difference, including forced labor and other human rights violations.
Uyghur people are native to northwestern China’s Uyghur Region, known to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Since 2017, in a systematic effort to dehumanize and eventually eliminate the Uyghur population, the CCP has arbitrarily detained more than one million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities into forced labor camps. They are regularly subjected to inhumane treatment, sexual- and gender-based violence, forced sterilization, mass surveillance, and torture. Democracies worldwide have deemed the CCP’s efforts a genocide.
As the fashion industry is celebrated in New York City, HRF encourages consumers to think twice about their purchases and to hold designers, brands, and manufacturers accountable for their complicity in the CCP’s oppression of the Uyghur people. Consumers can download HRF’s award-winning Uyghur Forced Labor Checker, a Google Chrome extension that notifies them when they visit a website of a brand that is likely linked to Uyghur forced labor, prompting them to reconsider their purchase.
HRF’s Wear Your Values (WYV) program engages the fashion industry in the human rights movement, promoting transparency in the supply chain and raising awareness of the hidden social costs of the industry through educational articles, events, exhibitions, panel discussions, and talks. If you are interested in collaborating, please email [email protected].
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact [email protected].