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North Korean jeans label opens pop-up shop in Stockholm

AFP/The Local · 20 Dec 2009, 09:17

Published: 20 Dec 2009 09:17 GMT+01:00

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"There has been a constant flow of shoppers," Tor Rauden Kaellstigen of company NoKo Jeans told AFP.

Around 1,100 pairs of the jeans went on sale, retailing for 1,500 Swedish kronor (€150, $226) each.

"We have a few pairs left," Kaellstigen said, refusing to disclose detailed sales figures.

The jeans were to have gone on sale at PUB on December 5, but the department store pulled out at the last minute, claiming it did not want to be dragged into a political debate.

Kaellstigen, Jakob Ohlsson and Jacob Aastroem – three young Swedes with no previous experience in business or fashion – started their project in mid-2007, prompted by a desire to enter in contact with the isolationist state.

The assembly of the trousers – the cut, the make and trim – is all done in North Korea. The communist state, all but cut off from foreign influence for the past 60 years, "has been isolated for so long and ethically, we thought that any sort of increased contact with the outside world would be good," Ohlsson recently told AFP.

The entrepreneurs visited North Korea twice and insisted that the working conditions at their Pyongyang-area factory were good.

NoKo Jeans are black, because North Koreans "usually associate blue jeans with America," making them "a little bit taboo," Ohlsson said.

Story continues below…

Jeans are not allowed in the North Korean dress code, but the upstarts say they nevertheless hope that one day they can "make clothes that our friends in the country can wear too."

Rights groups accuse North Korea of systematic and widespread human rights violations, including torture and forced labour.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:15 December 20, 2009 by krigeren
Great Job NOKO keeping your heads above water!

This is a type of social entrepreneurship that needs to be valued and recognized above the worth of the economic value alone.

Politicians are always building bridges where there are no rivers.....good business such as yourselves is building bridges where there are.

Trade, contact with the outside world, that is what will cause North Korea to change..........nothing else.

11:40 December 20, 2009 by calebian22
Way to go to all the Swedes who bought these jeans! Sleep easy knowing that your trendy jeans are propping up a humanitarian disaster in North Korea.
13:05 December 20, 2009 by Tennin
Those jeans are awfully ugly.
14:47 December 20, 2009 by Roger O. Thornhill
This will cause North Korea to change. NK is struggling financially and their people are starving. Only through capitalism will they be able to support their oppressive communist country. ;-)
00:25 December 21, 2009 by dtes
only in sweden would you find a bunch of overly tolerant consumerist bloats who would pay that much for a pair of sweatshop pants and not give a shite where they come from. what happened to shopping with ethics in mind?
07:02 December 21, 2009 by crofab
I agree, Tennin. They aren't even nice jeans, really. I wouldn't pay even 100 SEK for them, which incidentally is probably what the workers get paid per month to assemble them.
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