Bego Jeans; the story of clean denim


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Bego Jeans implements a sustainable and clean production model in the entire production chain of denim, one of the textile products with the highest environmental impact, and represents a concrete example of success in this sense, both in Türkiye and in the world. The 15-year process leading to the formation of the brand, which adopts values such as not employing child labour, employee rights and health, and fair production, as well as reducing the environmental impact, includes numerous movements. We have talked with Abdulhalim (Bego) Demir, the founder of Bego Jeans, about the denim story from his struggle with sandblasting to Bego Jeans and the sustainable and clean fashion movement.

Bego Demir started to work in the denim sandblasting business as a 15-year-old child worker and fell ill with incurable silicosis in 2007. Demir explained the process that prompted him to take action on this issue as follows; “When I learned that I had lost 46.2 percent of my lungs, I started researching and asking questions and thought that this should not be a destiny. So actually the first thing that prompted me was that the job I was working to earn money cost my health. The number of workers in denim sandblasting was between 5 and 10 thousand and almost all of them were unregistered. Therefore, although silicosis had been accepted as an occupational disease around the world, workers in Türkiye were not given any rights because they were unregistered. Seeing all these grievances led me to fight for a solution”.

Abdulhalim (Bego) Demir, the founder of Bego Jeans

Bego Demir stated that they established the Denim Sandblasting Workers Solidarity Committee in 2008, which includes doctors, artists, journalists, lawyers, activists and many other professionals and that they started their work by holding regular informative meetings in both health and other business sectors. Demir remarked that they have achieved successful gains both for the future of the sector and for the workers who are aggrieved, by making various documentaries, concerts, Ankara protests and lobbying activities to raise awareness about the struggle, saying; “Denim sandblasting was banned in 2009. In 2010, with the decision of the Council of Ministers, silicosis was subordinated to the Sanitation group and its auxiliary treatments became free. All silicosis patients were given the right to retire by adding articles 67-68 to the Omnibus Bill No. 6111 in 2011”.

He also pointed out that, in addition to sandpaper, potassium permanganate is still used intensively in the sector after the ban on denim sandblasting, even though it was added to the class of dangerous chemicals by the European Chemical Agency. Demir, emphasizing that laser cabins will contribute to the solution of the problem when implemented by taking precautions for occupational health and safety, added that on the other hand, very little bleaching is done with lasers in the sector.

“We have made more than 100 brands worldwide declare that they will not denim sandblast in their supply chain”

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Yağmur Melis Şimşek
Yağmur Melis Şimşek
Yağmur Melis Şimşek studied at Saint-Benoît French High School and then completed the two-year Photography Program at Anadolu University. Later, she continued her undergraduate education in the Department of Journalism at Istanbul University, and after her graduation, she began her career in 2017. Şimşek worked in various positions such as content and news writer in the field of technology as well as photographer and graphic designer in many different projects. She has been working as an Editor in Textilegence since 2021.

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