21/06/18 Why These Sneakers Went Viral on Youtube

Unfortunately we’re all too familiar with the thousands of haul videos that have weirdly become a sign of our times. Found on Youtube, the videos of people showing off their “hauls” of recent purchases have become the ultimate form of entertainment for shopping addicts.

Seemingly no different to the many videos that have been uploaded before it, in a youtube video posted a little over a week ago, YouTube star Jacques Slade featured this pair of sneakers in a video entitled “Unboxing: The Real Price of Sneakers.” What then followed was altogether different.

In the video uploaded last Tuesday, the influencer unveiled his latest shipment of kicks – a mid-top pair that, at first glance, passed for on-trend new kicks combining leather, suede and mesh details, and zig-zag stitching. However, it quickly became clear this wasn’t the usual haul reveal.

Upon closer inspection, they aren’t just shoes. Instead they’re a custom-made pair revealing the hidden facts about modern day slavery and forced labour. An initiative by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the ‘hidden human price’ of products amongst young people at a time when the issue of ethical fashion is increasingly informing consumer choices.


the real cost of slavery sneakers | STATEMENTS

Image courtesy: Thomson Reuters Foundation

For instance, the price tag on the shoe reads $90, or “the estimated price of a slave today,” according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, an organisation dedicated to global issues such as socio-economic progress, human trafficking and modern slavery. The advocacy group was among the collaborators in the social media campaign. 

The tongue of the shoe’s is imprinted with the number 40 followed by six zeroes — that is, 40 million, the number of people trapped in conditions of slavery, as stated by Reuters Foundation. This is a figure that’s equivalent to the populations of Australia, Finland and Greece combined and they fuel a global enterprise that yields an estimated $150 billion in illegal profits every year.

And a look inside the shoe shows insoles that depict harrowing images of sweatshop conditions, with the custom sneakers crafted by The Shoe Surgeon.


SLAVE-MADE-SNEAKERS | STATEMENTS | Sustainable and Ethical Fashion and Beauty

Image courtesy:  Thomson Reuters Foundation

With the goal to educate younger shoppers, the initiative has chosen to utilise the popularity unboxing videos have gained among sneaker enthusiasts and teamed up with Slade, with his videos regularly reaching more than 1.5 million people, to highlight the issue of ethical fashion that’s increasingly impacting today’s consumers’ shopping behaviours.


57,000 slave sneakers | reuters foundation

Image courtesy:  Thomson Reuters Foundation


5 dollar child slave | reuters foundation

Image courtesy:  Thomson Reuters Foundation


While there are all types of hauls to be found on the media platform, from home wares to fashion try-ons, the tide may be changing with an increasing number of Youtubers fighting consumerism with anti-hauls. Call it a revolution, saturation, whatever you will. We just hope it’s a sign of things to come where people realise they don’t need everything and give real thought to their purchases and where these products come from.