From labour trafficking to sex trafficking, debt bondage to forced labor, slavery is a global machine that strips more than 30 million people of their dignity for the sake of profit. In 2016 there were an estimated 1.8 million sex slaves generating $62 billion in profits, equating to an average profit margin per slave of 65-70%. As revealed by Siddharth Kara, a senior fellow and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, slavery offers immense profits at minimal risk through the exploitation of vulnerable subclasses whose brutalization is tacitly accepted and inextricably linked to the day-to-day lives of consumers everywhere. In his book, Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective, Kara identified no less than twenty systemic failures in the areas of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships, which conspire to keep slavery a risk-free venture.
In 2014 we initiated a “Big Dig” on human trafficking and modern slavery to learn what has been written, felt, said and thought on the subject. In the process, we came across the Blue Heart Campaign for victims of human trafficking, under the auspices of the United Nations’ Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This campaign was the inspiration for our Blueheart tartan, which symbolizes the collective heartbeat of millions of trafficking victims.
“The Blueheart tartan is a corporate tartan endorsed by the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign, an international initiative to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims. The campaign is coordinated by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. The Blueheart tartan symbolises the collective heartbeat (light blue lines) of those who are trafficked and provides another way for people to show their solidarity against this modern form of slavery, represented in the tartan by the black lines that intersect to form a cage.”
In 2015 we produced the first bolt of beautiful Blueheart tartan, half of which was used to make various prototypes, including kilts, skirts, ties, ring cushions, a guitar strap (worn by musician Lianne La Havas on stage at Glastonbury), jackets for pets and sashes for guides at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The remaining cloth was donated to the Rebel Tartan Project, where fashion, design and arts students used the tartan as inspiration for their own studies of trafficking.
Scroll down to see a few snapshots from a portfolio spanning several years and involving hundreds of students!
Human trafficking is not an easy topic to talk about. The Blueheart tartan has proven unusually effective in solving this problem. It provides a a unique and subtle way to engage people on the issues, and to show solidarity with its victims.