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These 'Slave-Made' Sneakers Should Make you Uncomfortable

Jacques Slade AKA Kustoo AKA one of the biggest sneaker-names on YouTube, has just filmed what he says is his most important unboxing ever. The clip starts with a mystery package. All he knows is that a company sent it to him, that it was ‘really special’, and ‘something that he would enjoy.’

The tone gets a little uncomfortable from there. Turns out the sneaker was a custom commissioned by Thompson Reuters to highlight some grim facts about the sneaker industry. It came with this letter:

Dear Jacques,

As you’ve probably figured out, the shoe you are unboxing was not made by a slave. It was made by someone receiving a fair wage in a factory with windows and ventilation. A place where workers are not beaten daily, sexually abused and threatened for their lives. A place with safe working conditions that millions of modern slaves will never have.

Every day, tiny hands are forces to sew clothes and shoes around the clock, working in factories that are not only illegal and unethical, but inhumane. Conditions so bad that factories have installed nets outside to prevent slaves from taking their own lives.

For those slaves, every second is significant, which is why we need to take action now. Only by working together can we free the 40 million slaves in bondage today all over the world.

To be clear, we’re not asking you to stop unboxing, or your fans to stop watching. We’re simply asking people to start asking the right questions and demand accountability.

What is the human price of the products you buy? Help end modern slavery at

Made by The Shoe Surgeon, the custom looks something like an Off-White Air Jordan and lays bare slavery facts in numbers. On the laces, ‘57,000’ indicates the amount of slaves estimated to be working in the United States. On the tongue, '40,000,000' indicates the amount of slaves put to work today, which is more than the amount recorded in all of history combined. On the paper wrapping, it’s noted that a whopping 71 per cent of fashion companies know it’s likely that slaves make their clothing.

As Thompson Reuters make clear, they're realistic in their expectations; people won't go cold turkey on luxury items. What they are asking, is that we pause to consider who is making our sneaker, and educate ourselves on the implications of mass-production. Head to Reuters to learn more.

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