Historical Sustainability Analysis

Garment sustainability analysis

For my garment sustainability analysis, I have chosen to look into the impact of how poisonous dyes have effect men and women in the past and from the toxic chemicals that have been used to make in clothing products.

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Figure 1: The Arsenic Dress

Clothing in nineteenth-centruty Europe and America was so thoroughly dangerous, its amazing anyone survived. Thats what you might very well take away from fashion victims: The dangerous of dress pass and present, a lavishly illustrated chronicle of ways clothing tried to kill both creators and their customers in the Victorian era, largely in the U.K., France and Northern America. The Toxic dyes, cosmetics laden with lead, and flammable fabrics, pairing beautiful examples of popular styles with sometimes gruesome illustrations of the injuries they might’ve inflicted. “Fashion causes literal,Physical harm to the bodies of its wearers and its makers and has done so for centuries’, for instance: A lovely emerald green used in fabrics and popular floral headdresses alike was made, in part, of arsenic. This would become an obsession on the part of the victorian media. The following is excerpted from fashion victims. 

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Figure 2: illustration In punch magazine

A cartoon titled “The Arsenic Waltz” alludes to the use of arsenic in dresses and artificial flowers. The illustration appeared in punch, a British humor magazine, a few months after a worker in the fashion industry died of arsenic poisoning.  It was that bad that a young girl Matilda Scheurer, a 19-year-old artificial flower maker, died of “accidental” poisoning, from the green dress and it causing her to vomited green waters; and the whites of her eyes had turned green and died it was said the brilliant hue of this green pigment, which was used to colour dresses and hair ornaments, was achieved by mixing copper and highly toxic arsenic trioxide or “white arsenic” as it was known. The press described her death in grisly detail, and by all accounts, Scheurer’s final illness was horrible.

Since the discovery of the arsenic dress and all the chemicals used to make it there hasn’t been an incident regarding anything due to all the testing and dye’s (e.g.vegetable dye) go on to make prevent it ever happening again. There are also companies such as Greenpeace who continue to protest the use of dyes which contain poisonous toxins. For example on the website there are easy to access news articles highlighting the dangers of dyes in children’s clothes and the use of them by worldwide respected brands such as Burberry. There are also ways in which the public can take action to ensure that the use of these dyes are eliminated and swapped for environmentally friendly alternatives.



The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play

Paperback edition by James C. Whorton in English (14 Jul 2011)

history http://pictorial.jezebel.com/the-arsenic-dress-how-poisonous-green-pigments-terrori-1738374597

MULHOLLAND, R (2013). [Online] Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Available from http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/conservation-blog/weeks-post-free-arsenic

Accessed: 26/02/17

MOSEBY.(2007) Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 56, Issue 2 [Online] Science Direct, Available at: www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01909622/56/2

GLIENICKE, A.(2014)In pictures: the toxic truth of your children’s clothes [Online] Greenpeace, Available at : http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/toxics/pictures-toxic-truth-your-childrens-clothes-20140116

Accessed: 26/02/17

Image References 

Figure 1: The Arsenic Dress

Available:history http://pictorial.jezebel.com/the-arsenic-dress-how-poisonous-green-pigments-terrori-1738374597

Accessed: 26/02/17

Figure 2: illustration In punch magazine

Available:history http://pictorial.jezebel.com/the-arsenic-dress-how-poisonous-green-pigments-terrori-1738374597

Accessed: 26/02/17


Word count: 449


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