The Fabric Social recommends: The True Cost
This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes. Find a screening near you here.
How good does it feel to run into a clothing store and see one-digit price tags on our favorite items? Great.
How many of us actually know where these clothes come from and how they are produced?
Not so much!
The production of cheap clothes carries a price that we are not exposed to; work exploitation. I learned about the ‘dark side’ of the big fashion manufacturers after reading the book “Stitched up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion” by Tansey E. Hoskins, where she exposes the flaws of the industry. As a heavy consumer of clothes myself, I used to go for the cheap street labels without knowing that workers in these factories work in extremely poor conditions and get paid only a few cents per hour. I decided that it’s time for me to become more educated in my consumer choices and spend my money more wisely. What is usually happening is that the money we spend on our clothes is not divided equally, workers get paid very little and all the income goes to the owners of these brands that we encounter on every corner of a busy street.
A few years ago in Bangladesh, in a poorly contracted fashion factory that collapsed, 1,133 workers died and 2,500 got injured due to horrific working conditions. This factory has been an illegal manufacturer for western labels such as: United Colors of Benetton, Mango, Primark and Walmart and it has been ignored by the front pages and headlines of the media.
The social consequences of the industry go beyond working conditions to environmental harm as well. Ecologically these fashion factories destroy the environment: one example being how in order to water cotton fields in Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea is being drained. The glamorization of the industry serves to conceal attention from how these clothes are made, who wears them and who actually makes all the money.
Additionally, animal skin is used for shoes and bags by many brands. We are not being pointed out the reality of the slow death animals face in slaughterhouses before their skin is being used for recreation of garment pieces. Is it really worth it??
I think not. The great news is that there are a lot of brands that produce cruelty-free, sustainable clothes so that a better choice is available for the consumer. Here at the Fabric Social, we produce garments in fair working conditions with conflict-affected women who make a living out of this job. Additionally, all the materials used for our clothes are organic and ecologically friendly. We are giving you the better choice; consumerism is a power that we hold in everything we purchase and having our money circulate to help those in need and produce the best quality end product is a way better choice. Next time when you go shopping, look at the tag and think about where your favorite clothes are produced. Learn more about its journey to the store. Paying more for a great quality piece produced organically by those who work passionately is the best investment you could give to yourself, those in need and to mother nature: everybody wins :)
Blertina is an intern with The Fabric Social, a social enterprise working exclusively with conflict-affected women. The Fabric Social work to transform one of the greatest causes of poverty: armed conflict. You can shop, donate, or get involved here.