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What's behind the latest collection of workwear for children?

By Simone Preuss


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Collection of workwear for children in collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages. Credits: Workwear for Kids

Work overalls for children with a GPS tracker in case they get lost? A small waxed shirt that defies pesticides? Trousers with knee pads for undisturbed crawling? What at first glance may sound like a good idea for active children or, somewhat more cynically, safety gear for the impending climate change, has a serious background: child labour.

Every day, millions of children — some as young as five years old — are forced into hazardous labour, especially in the three most dangerous industries: mining, tobacco farming and brick making.

Illegal child labour inspires workwear collection

SOS Children's Villages wanted to address this problem in an impactful way and developed a small collection of workwear for children under the motto "clothes that shouldn't exist, for conditions that can't be allowed": “It is robust enough to withstand the toughest working conditions in the world. And wrong enough to make a difference,” explains a press release.

The mini collection of workwear for children. Credits: Workwear for Kids

The GPS tracker in the miner’s pants, for example, is designed for use if a tunnel collapses and the child is buried while working in the mine. The same goes for the knee pads: they help when crawling through the narrow tunnels, work that is often given to children.

And the waxed shirt? It shields from pesticides when harvesting tobacco, as does the extra pocket containing a face mask to protect against dust particles.

The jacket has reinforced wrists to protect the wearer from cuts and blisters and makes it easier to lift heavy loads, for example when working in cobalt mines.

“Children growing up in insecure conditions and poverty are at risk of exploitation and being forced into labor. These are children who should have a secure upbringing and attend school. Children working in brick production, mining and tobacco farming face some of the most hazardous working conditions and risk serious consequences for their physical and mental well-being,” comments Karin Cassinger, marketing and communications manager at SOS Children's Villages.

“At SOS Children's Villages, we support children with schools, family strengthening programs, children's villages, and local advocacy efforts. So that they can have a secure upbringing, education and a brighter future,” adds Cassinger.

The prices for the clothes - which are not really for sale - were deliberately chosen and correspond to the “wages” that the children earn during a whole year (!) in their respective industry, which according to SOS is equivalent to around 865 US dollars in the mining industry, 385 US dollars in the tobacco industry and just 290 US dollars in the brick industry.

The initiative was launched with a showroom in central Stockholm, strategically located near premium children's fashion stores where fashion-conscious parents stroll past with their toddlers every day.

A collection that one does not see every day and that really makes one think.

More information can be found on the Workwear for Kids website.

SOS Children's Villages