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Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts

By 8th April 2008April 10th, 201732 Comments

As t-shirt lovers, we were excited to see a trailer for a new BBC programme on the subject, called Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, airing on 22nd April 2008!

A new four episode series is starting on BBC THREE where six young fashion lovers swap shopping for the factories and backstreet workshops of India to make clothes for the British High Street. From the press release:

The six start at the top, working for Shahi Enterprises in New Dehli, a multi-million pound factory that makes clothes for some of the biggest names on the UK High Street. They learn to sew before joining the production lines where every worker has targets to meet: for example, collars have to be sewn on to shirts at the rate of one a minute.

As unskilled workers they’re paid around £1.50 a day, a basic living wage in India. The group finds that it doesn’t stretch far – when they go to buy deodorant, it costs a day’s wages.

An accompanying online fashion magazine – Thread ( – will offer tips on how to achieve an eco-glam look through a mix of shopping for new or vintage clothes, to swapping clothes with friends and customising existing clothes. The website will launch closer to the date of the first episode.

Tuesday 22 April 2008
9.00-10.00pm BBC THREE
BBC Press Release in full


  • mark says:

    I am one of the participants for this programme, and i deffo recommend watching it… Its going to be a real eye opener to the fasion industry!

  • Mark says:

    A great programme and a real eye opener. Showing the real deal.

    Hopefully it will make many people in the UK think a little more deeply about the real world.

    Well done to all who took part and were involved.

  • Orla says:

    I am in actual shock at how unashamedly self-obsessed and lacking in compassion this bunch of knob heads are. It’s 2008, can these kids honestly be this unaware of globalisation and the exploitation of the third world? Really? Their constant moaning, condescension and blatant lack of empathy is, quite frankly, far more disgusting than any squat toilet or cow-dung filled street. Presumably (hopefully) by the end of the series they will have learned a little humility, but what about all the other spoilt brats who trawl the high streets, reaping the benefits of other’s misery?

  • helen says:

    Well done this was a truly enlighten prpgramme. This should be included in school sylabus. Not only did highlight the imbalance in the fashion industury but also the cultural difference and the unknowing disrespect towards things that are not the same.

    Thank you

  • NILS says:


  • Peter C says:

    makes you realise how lucky you are living in the UK, as these poor people in india, live in squallor when compared even to the poor people in UK society. I now understand why the UK looks like paradise to the people of this region, a life is hard, and work is like prison slave labour. Now i understand why the UK is being flooded with asian immigrants looking for a much better quality of life in the UK.

  • Katharine says:

    Wow. I caught this on iPlayer, and it turned out to definitely be the most eye opening bit of procrastinating I’ve done in a while. I’ve mostly been a bit of a reluctant fan of Primark, as this ‘it’s sweatshop labour, don’t buy it!’ message has always been there, lurking at the back of my mind, but it’s now been most definitely confirmed. The accompanying magazine was also fairly interesting, which is quite unusual for that kind of thing, in my experience anyway.
    As I watched the 6 ‘fashion lovers’ I realised that, yes, they did appear like appallingly spoilt brats, but then I realised that their behaviour isn’t exactly uncommon in Britain. Most of the people I know would have given fairly similar reactions in the same situations and we are only a product of our situation after all.
    I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the next episode, it looks like it’s only going to get worse for them, but even more gruesomely eye opening for the rest of us. I hope this programme makes some sort of impact on shoppers today.

  • Laura says:

    Great show! Have recorded it for my children (11 and 9) maybe they will treat their clothes with respect and appreciate their priviledged lives using their freedom to do something about this injustice.

  • Kate says:

    I Can’t believe the narrow mindness and blinkered outlook these 6 kids have! Richard grew up on a council estate so how can he be so blatantly rude and direspectful to the Indians. Amrita is a complete disgrace to the Indians her parents lived and worked hard from india to make her life better and she talks about her people like dirt!
    I like the concept of the programme but the kids distract from the main purpose of the program

  • ann says:

    what a bunch of bullshitters themselves…….god this programme should be named as moaning in india….not blood,sweat and tears…….well they would sweat a lot by the time they finish moaning not working, and they call india a shithole, well i got a question…the indian ppl didnt beg u to go and work over there, u chose to do it, so there’s no reason for u to complaint……if u think its a shithole then u shudnt hv gone there
    what a waste of money this programme is

  • Ash says:

    I will be very happy if by the end of programme these kids learn about the reality of backstage fashion industry and of course ‘ THE MANNERS’

  • Nina says:

    Just watched the programme. These brats are unbelievable. They think everyone should be falling at their feet in gratitude for their every effort, and they are completely disrespectful to India. Compared to other British people their age who I live and work with here in England, their behaviour is utterly sickening. Whine, whine, whine. They talk back to their factory supervisors as if they know everything – such arrogance. Good thing they got a rude awakening in India and learned a bit of discipline and humility – hopefully it will improve their behaviour back home.

  • Lynneth says:

    I think Blood, Sweat and T’Shirts has skimmed the surface which is a great starting point but it should also investigate which shops do make more of an effort to produce clothes in a more ethical way. Filming fairtrade manufacture of clothes and visit a British factory or independent retailer to compare. More investigative journalism please to give consumers the knowledge to help them make informed decisions!

  • Julie says:

    There’s another reality that we are all overlooking. Its not just about what they are learning and we are looking at from a countries perspective. We can find hard working people in UK also, but in countries like India people need to work hard and live in demeaning conditions as most profit is made by the agents. We spent £30 – £40 on a shirt or a skirt which is actually about 3 grands in indian money, but they get mere 1 rupee. its shame and people in the retail who are dealing with such factories and on constant lookout for cheap labour should be answerable. We as consumers are also not happy while the labourers creating the stuff are also not happy.

  • Richard says:

    You see the sad thing about people like you is that one day you’re going to start doing some thinking of your own, (wow how scary no privately educated journalists or internet scholars to plagiarise thoughts and opinions from to pass off as your own. Your dinner parties will never be the same again! Image the horror when your friends find out that your once thought of as bright self actual spends the weeks reading Hello magazine, listening to censored, biased and laughably independent news channels, oh and not to forget ‘real life documentary’s’ tackling the true issues of the world by an independent broadcaster that of course only cares about the greater good of mankind.) you’ll suddenly come to stark realisations such as David Copperfield can’t actually make the Statue of Liberty disappear, Wars are fought over power and money not to preserve the safety of the innocent, reviewers are failed journalists that serve to provide entertainment for the masses that are so bitterly unhappy with their lives that ridicule and rigour to those generationally different from themselves is their only escape, political correctness causes more abomination than it prevents, and shock horror ‘real life’ documentary’s are made by commercially driven privately owned production companies. Whether it be through ignorance, naivety or just plain stupidity that you don’t realise that when over six hundred hours worth of footage is shot for a 4 hour mini-series you can just as easily portray somebody to be the spawn of Lucifer as you can a descendant of Christ himself. I cannot even begin to explain the amount of inconsistencies, misrepresentations and at times blatant lies that were in the first episode alone!
    Yes I accept that at times my choice of language wasn’t the most articulate and given the benefit of hindsight I should have toned down my level of obscenities. But to label me a spoilt brat or call me culturally ignorant because I found the conditions appalling is absurd. You may not have agreed with my choice of wording but I spoke the truth nevertheless when describing the environment I was in at the time, it was literally a sh*t hole. This is not to say that I had no compassion or sympathy for the people or I wasn’t completely outraged, appalled and disgusted at the conditions they lived in. The point I was making, which was obviously lost on many people amongst all the obscenities, as backed up by many a scholar throughout history is that in many ways the people I met contribute to their own downfall. If you still don’t believe this then I invite you to spend 6 weeks out there living and working alongside these people after which any criticism you want to point at me I will accept with open arms. But if like most I should imagine you’d prefer to scorn those that do care enough to investigate these conditions for themselves from your comfortable arm chair then I would ask you to not invoke the escape clause in your live and refrain from posting narrow minded comments about me on internet forums. 🙂

  • Alex says:

    If you are in the UK, check out BBC iPlayer if you missed the latest epsiode:

  • this is the great programme Showing the real deal.

  • Tallulah Joe says:

    After the large Primark was opened to my amusement a few years back in Manchester, I slowly came to a conclusion without programmes or internet research – £2 for a 12 pack of knickers means someone’s getting a raw deal out there.

    I have since researched and found a beautiful organisation – War On Want. WOW take real initiatives in respecting and funding those who produce such garments, taking real issues not with the workers or the consumers, rather the conglomerates that decide “Yes, £1.50 a day is a wage I am comfortable paying my workers”. I avoid Primark, I squint my eyes at TopShop fashions every now and then, and I try actively to find stylish yet fairly produced garments.

    This programme has just echoed my personal beliefs, and I think the participants of the show deserve respect. They physically endured the temperatures, smells, attitudes, comfort or lack of, lack of sleep, constant psychological revelations and torments etc. They gradually transformed from being part of many varying ‘Typical Consumers’ to a minimal proportion of the population of consumers – the ‘Educated’ ones.

    Well done chaps and ladies, I would have loved to have endured the experience myself, but having watched the programme I feel I’ve gained a substantial amount even from the comfort of my front room. Kudos especially to Stacey whom I can relate with being so taken back by the children’s optimistic outlook. I also respect Richard for his conclusions – it’s true, what Jamie Oliver has done for chickens someone can do for 3rd world labour. Ooh also, Tara’s (I think?) initiative to combine current trends with Fair Trade organisations is something no one dares to approach it seems in major stores. The potential there is enormous!

    Basically, I’ve got food for thought here, and I’m quite proud of how the participants came out of the experience. Love to all, and to the BBC – please get this on Prime Time BBC1 one day! What a difference it could do.


  • ellthing says:

    I thought these programmes were eye opening – no matter how much we “know” about the dreadful conditions people work in, the visual impact of the series hit home. I would like, though, to see a series which shows what happened next. Who handles the stuff in the Uk, how musch are they paid and what about the companies selling the stuff? How much do their executives get? And, most importantly, the shareholders? Somebody must be creaming off the money. How can a T shirt retail for under a fiver when you consider all the labour and other costs which go into it? Even worse, how can somebody make a profit on selling a T shirt for under a fiver?

  • Hanna says:

    I just saw the three first episodes. It was aired here in Norway, which is great, but I don’t think most people can watch it because most people have don’t have the channel it was aired on here. Good thing is, it’s aired online (and it’s on the “HOT” list, so more people will probably watch it online that on the telly.
    I know we are WAY behind of showing it, but atleast some people see it.. Better that noting right?
    Atleast, this show (after the first episode actually) made me change my view about clothes. By the second episode I was crying(and I’m not the person that cries aboth “noting”). I feel really bad.. I just spent a lot of money on(compared to what the indian in “the fashion industy” make make in a day, or like a month, or a year) money on clothes I’m gonna wear once, for a bad-taste party… 🙁
    I feel awful right now…
    Congrats to the makers of the program, because you really showed me what “fashion” is all about…
    Sorry for the spelling, the show got me so depressed I HAD to drink… And my red-wine was probally made by nine year olds… *shudders* Again, apologies for grammar, I’m slightly drunk and not english…

  • Sara says:

    Hey Richard, What you said there is great. Is it possible that if you read this you could please please get in touch with me? I have some questions to ask you which are really important. Thank you!

  • Richard says:

    No Sara Sorry I have a girlfriend

  • Sara says:

    Richard is rude and arrogant.

  • wayne says:

    Richard is nothing but an arrogant Prick. And this guy grew up in a council estate.How can he be so arrogant and rude to people of India. Hey Dumbo no one invited you to go India.
    Luckily this guy had a camera sticking up his a*s 24/7 when in India, or he would have got his a*s kicked in India. Before you blame the people of India and China for their problem, just learn what Britain did from 1700’s to 1940’s to these 2 countries. Reason why Britain is well off today is because of how these two countries were systematically looted and destroyed by Britain.
    After watching the show , I have nothing but respect for people of India. Having been to India many times, I have seen first hand how much this country has developed in last 15 years. And I am sure India will be much more prosperous and well off country, in coming 15 years.

  • Anonymous says:

    The thing is If you don’t buy the clothes made by those Indian workers they go out off business and probably starve or die.
    Yes, I don’t agree with the living conditions at all, but I don’t agree with boycotting shopping stores because of it.

    Think about it, every time you buy a t shirt an Indian child gets fed and ok albeit not a lot but it’s better than nothing.

    Am I right?

  • Anuj says:

    Does anyone know what the name of the vintage shop in Soho that Amrita went at the end to sell her clothes?

  • Stephen says:

    “Think about it, every time you buy a t shirt an Indian child gets fed and ok albeit not a lot but it’s better than nothing.

    Am I right?”





  • Kelley says:

    Wow, I am so glad that those snobs did not come from the states. Not that we don’t have our own variety of ignorant fashionistas that have never worked a day in their life. How embarrassing! God forbid this show continues to put children in danger by getting them fired from there jobs and putting them back on the streets. India will eventually fix the mess that the British Empire created for them without western production companies sending over their clueless teenagers to publicly disrespect the people of India and reinforce the stereotype that westerners are all like they are.

    To the people of India. I apologize.

  • Joanne McMmenamin says:

    How is it when one of the girls had to bring the blouses to the bosses office which seemed to be in walking distance, it was immaculate as well as the bosses clothes . Why is it a man who is in that office can’t see how inhumane it is to his workers not fight for them to have a clean environment.I think they can have a middle class if they just give up a few dollars and be compassionate. They have only upper and lower class of people because they won’t share and expects other countries to feel sorry for them and help them out, which I have to say is what I would like to do , it hurt watching Blood Sweat and T shirts .
    There is absolutly no reason for anyone to sleep at work especially on a filthy floor when in the same building is a spacious clean area for them to sleep on.

  • Ray says:

    Richard is a rude and condescending piece of s**t!

    Open your mind and eyes you effing a**-hole!

    He is a [bleep] who deserves to be shot!

    [Editor’s note: Swear words moderated]

  • b en says:

    Richard, you say:

    “The point I was making, which was obviously lost on many people amongst all the obscenities, as backed up by many a scholar throughout history is that in many ways the people I met contribute to their own downfall. If you still don’t believe this then I invite you to spend 6 weeks out there living and working alongside these people after which any criticism you want to point at me I will accept with open arms. ”

    a) These scholars tend to be rich like yourself and have to justify their own privileges. Prime example is Ayn Rand. Problem here is that you aren’t a scholar and referencing these as if it justifies your own broken ideas is a complete miss.
    b) Your arrogance that you reprise here is what people object to. In the very show you fail to work yourself up given the same premise as the office workers.

    I’m glad that you in the end of episode two at least show some development, but on the issue of global poverty you shouldn’t point out “laziness” as even being close to the main reason.