Since the release of the True Cost Movie we have been forced to question: What is the true cost of what we wear? The cheap price of fashion has been justified by profits…but for how long will this narrative continue?
Two years ago I sponsored an amazing idea on Kickstarter, something I wanted and needed to see happen: the creation of a movie which was going to reveal the true story about where our clothes come from.
Fast forward a year and I was lucky enough to meet Director Andrew Morgan and his team in Hong Kong, whilst they were interviewing Christina Dean of Redress (where I was volunteering at the time).
A year after that, I get an email, saying I was able to watch the finished movie. I’ve now watched it twice.
The first time I watched it I was quite overwhelmed. It amazes me still how interconnected the world of fashion is with the rest of our world. There are a number of new aspects to the mainstream coverage of sustainable fashion which I think this movie cleverly adds:
The Seed Industry
Even though I’m researching within the field of sustainable fashion, rarely have I seen highlighted the issues surrounding cotton farmers and their suicides. The fact that every 30 minutes a cotton farmer commits suicide is one phrase from the film which I can not get out of my mind. Cotton, something fluffly and warming, is one of the most deathly plants. From seed to dress, our clothing affects the survival of an even wider chain of people than I have been shocked by before.
The role of leadership
This film has not only told us the stories of those worst affected by the true cost, but those who are making inspirational work to change the narrative.…which I find particularly inspiring and valuable as a female business student. Safia Minney is a CEO like no other….from Tokyo to London to Bangladesh, she is involved in every last detail of her company, People Tree, which employs 7,000 people. She begun tackling the ‘True Costs’ before many in the fashion world even thought about it, and was not afraid to do so. The role of leadership isn’t discussed in the film, but stands out to me through the brave individuals featured (+ Livia Firth + Lucy Siegle), who are needed to help reduce the costs through providing solutions.
Taking a wider view
I also like how the film takes a wider perspective over how the issues fashion is facing demonstrates larger challenges our societies face, such as ‘consumptionism’. Is buying more and more clothing really making us happy? Consumptionism is a particularly interesting phenomenom when it comes to fashion…as buying clothing not only makes us feel rich, as the film points out. To add to this, buying clothes makes us feel beautiful. However fast fashion only creates a short term happiness. The system is built to make us want to buy more and more clothing for a quick burst of self fulfilment. This short term mindset is shown in the film through the corporate drive for shareholder dividends…a story we’re more used to hearing.
The ‘costs’ shown in this film can be summed up:
+ Health risks
+ Etc. – I could go on…
= The True Cost
Since its release the film has received a lot of press and media coverage. The PR effort has been huge, with conferences taking the filmmakers and supporters across the globe.
Whilst I know the movie has been well watched by those already with a keen eye on sustainability and the environment, concerning my average Facebook friend I dare say I have yet to hear of many talk or watch it. Its been almost a month since the film’s release, so its yet to be seen if the effect will be similar to that of ‘Food, Inc.’ on the food industry in 2008. Which actually strikes a criticism of the movie for me, if there was one – and that’s the name. Even though the name ‘The True Cost’ is simplistic and to the point, if you weren’t already ‘in the know’ about the topic of the film, it would be hard to grasp it’s relation to fashion, as could have contributed to the success of ‘Food, Inc.’ . I guess the good graphics of The True Cost movie help with this though.
Images courtesy of The True Cost, available to watch Here