Why are we so wired today that we keep buying clothes that we don’t really need? And what are the true costs of today’s fast fashion? These are the questions that the documentary The True Cost sets out to answer as it ambitiously traces the consequences of when clothes consumption switched from being a necessity to a consumable. The story is told through ecstatic YouTube vloggers who shows their latest Forever 21 finds and images of hysteric shopping crowds on Black Friday. Then it travels to the factory workers in Bangladesh who risks there lives producing garments that are cheap enough to be enticing for the Western world consumer. The journey then continues to India where the chromium from the leather is slowly killing the population.
This is a very disturbing and enlightening movie that definitely puts a stark light on the true costs of fashion. It’s not all doom and gloom though, and one positive example is the English/Japanese brand People Tree who has chosen a far more ethical path when producing their collections. I own two garments from this brand and can highly recommend it.
I am currently on a personal journey trying to align my consumption patterns with my ethical values, but it is not easy! And as a sewist it is a tricky thing too, I think many of us love clothes as a form of a personal expression and are habitual creators, which makes us produce more than we actually need. On the other hand I think we truly understand and appreciate the value of this craft and can see how the pricing of garments in the stores today is not a sustainable model. In fact clothes has never been as cheap as they are today. So some very good food for thought is what you’ll get when watching this documentary. It’s available on Netflix, for rent or buy on Itunes and at many other places, and I highly recommend checking this movie out.
Also another great story on this subject is Planet Moneys radio/podcast series The making of a t-shirt, which among many other things highlights the complexity of how the garment industry also can act as a source of empowerment for women.