A five-part reality series in Norway sent three 17-year-old fashion bloggers to work in a Cambodian sweat shop for one month as part of a social experiment, the results of which saw the group abruptly alter their views on the industry.
Backed by Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, the series, named Sweatshop Deadly Fashion, reportedly hoped to expose the conditions of textile laborers and to highlight duplicity within the fashion industry.
During the series, the three teens, named Anniken Jorgensen, Frida Ottesen, and Ludvig Hambro, all traveled to Phnom Penh, where they spent a month living as textile workers.
At the beginning, the trio takes to Cambodia, carefree, until they’re forced to accept their new living conditions, while living off nominal wages.
As Sweatshop Deadly Fashion continues, the group begins to wear down. Hambro becomes visibly bothered when he learns a $35 blouse costs more than a month’s worth of rent. “Those who make the garments should also be able to afford them,” Hambro said.
He then compares life in Norway to living in a bubble. “You think you know; you think you know it’s bad. But you don’t know how bad it is before you see it.”
In a later episode, the teens first report for duty at a factory, amused and chipper. After a few hours, that amusement is replaced by anguish. “It’s like an eternal vicious cycle,” Ottesen says. “It never stops. You just sit here and sew the same seam over and over again. I’ve been here for over two hours, just doing the same thing. I’m hungry and tired and my back aches.”
The final episode shares the teens’ about-face: “I have no words for it. It’s just so unfair,” said Ludvig, while Anniken tearfully quivered, “What kind of life is this?”
Watch the show’s trailer below:
You can view the entire series, which has been subtitled in English, here.