Pollution, human rights violations, extreme poverty, cancer, consumerism and egregious waste - all of this and more in one documentary that tackles the fashion industry. This past week saw the release of the long awaited documentary, "The True Cost." Director, Andrew Morgan has been working on this film for the past two years, and I must say, it is a huge project.
"The True Cost" exposes the fashion industry for exactly what it is - ugly, profit-focused and exploitative. The documentary attempts to make a point about every aspect of the industry today and to tie them all together into the larger message that current conditions are unacceptable, and that we are in dire need of change. The topic is vast and highly controversial. I imagine that Morgan felt overwhelmed by the task at hand, and yet, I think he has done a wonderful job.
In the film we get to hear from the perspectives of a wide range of people who are involved in and affected by the fashion industry. There is Shima Akhter, a garment worker who tells her story of physical abuse and poverty. Vandana Shiva weighs in on seed monopolization and capitalism. Safia Minney, the founder of sustainable fashion brand, People Tree, talks about her hopes for the future of fashion. There is a powerful moment during an interview with Bangladeshi factory owner, Arif Jebtik, as he reflects on the Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013. These perspectives, and those of many more, all come together to show the huge problems that the fashion industry has created in our global society and our environment.
I know that I’ve talked about the problems in the fashion industry before, and I’m sure that you have seen some of the horrors through other sources. However, “The True Cost” is the first of its kind in that it stitches together a comprehensive story. By showcasing different aspects of the fashion industry, from garment workers to farmers to consumers, the film reminds us that every step of the process is interconnected. Indeed, the film reminds us that as humans, we are all connected. Unfortunately, this is a story where everyone (except for a small handful of executives in charge of the industry) is losing, and losing hard. From cancer and physical abuse to a lack of happiness and the slow poisoning of our planet, the effects of the fashion industry have an impact on everyone in some way or another.
Something that kept coming to my mind as I watched “The True Cost” was my sheer anger and disbelief at the fact that there are still people in the world who just don’t care. There are people whose only concern is profit, and those people exist in the fashion industry, the food industry and in governments around the world. The problems that humanity faces are tied to the same problems that we have always faced. It’s amazing how a garment workers’ protest in Cambodia looks so similar to a #BlackLivesMatter protest in Baltimore.
Towards the end of the documentary, Morgan touches on this issue that seems to connect all of our problems; the current Capitalist system. In order to overcome the greed and complete disregard for human rights and environmental protection, we must change the system. This just keeps coming up, doesn’t it? As we define the future of fashion, and the future of our earth, we will need to face systemic change.
Though a lot of “The True Cost” is sad and wildly upsetting, Morgan ends it on a hopeful note. We, as a global society, are on the cusp of great change. All we need to do is step up.
As you know, this blog is all about stepping up to create positive change in the world. I aim to raise awareness about the serious issues that we are facing, but I also hope to inspire by bringing to light some of the wonderful solutions that are out there. I urge you to download and watch “The True Cost,” and I hope that it will sit with you. I hope that it makes you feel angry, but not powerless. As Stella McCartney puts it in the film “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy into it.” As a consumer and a member of the global community, you have the power to create change. If you ever have questions on how you can do that, or if you want to talk more about the subject, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me - I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment section below.