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In the life of... a pair of jeans

03/08/2016

I am worn by many, desired by some and often sold for a great sum of money – I am a pair of jeans. My very fabric of existence was born in a cotton field in an exotic country such as China, India, Pakistan or Brazil. After the raw cotton is grown, it has to be refined by removing the seeds and then the fibres are pressed into fabric. The waste from this process is often recycled, going back into the ground as soil nutrients.

Next, the cotton fabric is transported, either by truck, train or ship, to a place where it can be woven and dyed. This is where I gain my distinctive, sturdy ‘denim’ weave and my colour, whether it be indigo blue or solid black. I am then transported to an assembly line where my fabric is cut into shape using a pattern and all of my parts are assembled. After I am stitched together, my copper rivets are fixed into place. I am then washed thoroughly before I go onto the next stage.

Time for distress! At this stage, I sometimes undergo ‘stone-washing’ where I am placed in an industrial washing machine with large stones. This process softens my otherwise stiff fibres giving me that distinctive faded look I am sure you’ll all be familiar with.

I am nearly ready - I just need my labels adding. Most of the time, this occurs in the same location, but sometimes I need to be transported to a specialist company that affixes my labels. Once this is done, I am packed up and transported, usually by truck, to a warehouse awaiting shipment to the UK.

Once all of the shipping and logistics are in place, my boxes go into a container, which is then placed onto a large cargo ship. Across the open seas I go! After a month or so, depending on my country of origin, I finally reach the UK.

On arrival at the dockyard, my container is moved from the cargo ship to an area on the shore where it’s loaded onto a truck. I now travel to the South East of England where I am unloaded into a warehouse. My boxes are checked for damage – however, I am still as pristine as the day I set sail. After the warehouse team ‘pick and pack’ my boxes, I am placed upon the warehouse racking. All of the necessary paperwork and computer processing is done, and both the storage company and end customer are now aware of my arrival and location.

Only a few weeks later, my boxes are loaded onto a trailer and I am delivered to the store. Sometimes I go to a wholesaler. Sometimes I go directly to a retailer. I am usually kept in a stockroom behind the store until I can be displayed. Security tags are affixed to me and then I am hung on racks or sometimes I am folded and placed on display shelving. And then, only a few days later, I am usually being worn by my first owner!

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