Ok – so last Tuesday I promised to post daily blogs during Fashion Revolution week. Tuesday has now rolled around again. Eeek! Dropped the ball on that one – sorry! I blame my dad for questioning my devotion to The Bridge. Totally unrelated but it’s a killer Danish-Swedish crime series – get on to it if you haven’t already had the privilege. So I succumbed to bingeing on that rather than blogging. We all have our weaknesses. 🙊
Now, back to Fast Fashion.
As the fashion designer, Orsola de Castro says, “clothes… they are our chosen skin” and that makes them a powerful consumer choice for us, although I’m sure most of us don’t think of it like that. Nor do we think of the clothes’ life cycle before hanging on that sales rack ready for us to “grab a bargain” – something that seems to be readily available in this era of weekly fashion seasons. The fashion industry farewelled the traditional four season year a long time ago.
But why and how has fashion evolved, or rather degenerated, to this and what is its impact on the environment and society?
Here’s where these three documentaries can lend a helping hand. I love a good documentary – it’s an effective medium to learn something new in a relatively short timeframe, and it tends to point you in the right direction if you want to research more once the credits start to roll. These documentaries opened my eyes to social and environmental injustices committed by the fashion industry today, as well as exploring more hopeful alternatives for the future of fashion.
The True Cost (2015)
Did you know that if you live in a developed country, generally only 7-8% of the clothes sold in your country are made there?
So if they’re not made in your home country, where are they being produced and why? I’m sure you can guess – that’s right, developing countries and because it’s loads cheaper. This is what The True Cost explores.
See a $5 t-shirt at your local chain store and we don’t bat an eyelid. Once you watch this documentary and find out the garment worker who produced it wasn’t earning a living wage or working in safe conditions; the consequences of pesticide and chemical toxicity within the fashion industry will leave you gobsmacked; I doubt you’ll be rushing to the check out to snap up that ‘bargain’. It’s astounding to discover but it’s crucial for us to have eyes wide open, that way we can affect positive change in the future, mindful of our fellow humans all over the world.
For me, what I love most about this documentary is its open discussion about marketing and the broken system we call Capitalism.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the life cycle of products and their true cost – check out this post.
I saw this documentary when it was part of the Transitions Film Festival, which was held for the first time this year in Sydney but has been running for the past 6 years in Melbourne. (If you call Australia home and are a documentary-addict like me, sign up to their mailing list so you’re in the know for next year’s event; it ran in several cities this year).
Anyway, back to the point – Riverblue. This documentary struck a chord with me because of its focus on water – my blog is called The Ocean and Me after all. Water is a precious resource yet to say it’s not being treated as such is putting it far too mildly! As one interviewee of the film declares, “we are committing hydrocide.”
Abuse of this essential, life-giving substance so we can get a $15 pair of jeans – it’s madness. A perfect example of the crazed greed of corporations and the zombie-like overconsumption of the public, leading to our own demise.
The film does get a little repetitive at times but I imagine they do this to drive home the severity of the situation. What I really liked about it was the attention given to some innovators creating solutions and offering possibilities for a brighter future. Should the fashion industry own up to the atrocities it’s responsible for and start considering environmental and social costs of their products rather than simply the bottom line of their financial statements, this dire situation we’re in just might be redeemable. Let’s remember – this will only happen if we demand it of them! So make sure to vote with your dollar and also put pressure on your government to make them accountable.
Riverblue has yet to be released online at the time of posting, but you can hopefully find a screening near you.
Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion
A different angle was taken in this documentary and I found it all the more valuable because of it. Alex hones in on the fashion industry and its impact on landfill – specifically the breakdown of our clothes once they’re chucked.
Did you know that today 80% of garments are made from synthetic fibres?
I didn’t, and I’ll readily admit that I thought I was pretty well read up on plastic but hadn’t stopped to think about the excess plastic in my wardrobe – polyester, acrylic, nylon and rayon to name but a few of the incriminating fibres (I’ll be sure to pull out my investigative microscope on these fibres in a later post). Most of us know that plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and, as I’ve heard it explained before, it doesn’t so much break down as break up – into thousands of micro-plastics that pollute our Earth and oceans. In the case of clothes – they’re termed microfibres; check out this great YouTube video to learn more.
I learnt loads from this documentary (thank you, Fashion Revolution for the free screening!) though I must admit I did find the second half of the documentary bordering on an ad for the, spoiler alert, British Wool Marketing Board. Vegans won’t be impressed either. That’s not to say that there wasn’t something to it, but I was surprised that hemp or bamboo weren’t touched on.
One thing’s for sure – the ‘silky’ mens briefs turned my preconception of wool upside-down!
Have you seen these documentaries? What did you think of them?
Do you have any other great fast-fashion documentary recommendations? I’d love to hear them! Please let me know in the comments below.