Our outfits reflect our personalities whether we like it or not. It’s how we unconsciously express our moods, and it varies from day to day. Which is why the world is now brimming with hundreds and thousands of different fashion brands to cater to the various styles each of us posses.
The concept of fast fashion quickly emerged as the industry kept up with fast technology, rapid trend changes, and instant demands of consumers. It is a term used by fashion designers to point out designs that are shipped to fashion racks from the runway in an instant.
But the term soon evolved as the concept of ethical business emerged. Fast Fashion now commonly pertains to clothes quickly moved from the runway to the store to consumer and finally to the garbage. Fast. These clothes are manufactured quickly and inexpensively, to allow the mainstream consumer to get them for lower prices.
Fantastic right? Who wouldn’t want affordable, on-trend clothing in an instant?
While all of this seems so fashionably awesome and monetarily convenient, we don’t really ask the important questions: How are these affordable clothes made, and how are they so cheap?
What lies behind tailoring, designing, and producing these clothes, is a whole different story. The doors to these kinds of information have remained closed for years. And it’s because they have something to hide. Fashion has its own ethics. And if you love dressing up and colouring your wardrobe like I do, it’s time to educate yourself with how the brands you consume make the pretty outfits you parade in.
Here are five ethical fashion documentaries you NEED to see before making your next purchase:
The True Cost
This is the documentary that changed everything. Its main angle focuses on the true price being paid for our affordable clothes. Who is really paying for that 550 peso top you just bought? Watching this for the first time was hard to stomach. I just couldn’t believe that human, environmental, and worker’s rights were being sabotaged by such a high profit generating industry such as fashion. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact it has on our world. The True Cost is a groundbreaking new documentary film that pulls back the curtain on an unseen part of our world and asks us each to consider, who pays the price for our clothing?
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things ponders over unnecessary lavish living, and takes the audience within the concept of living a meaningful life with less. Materialism has plagued and clouded many of our values, the concept being sold to us by those who want to make a whole lot of money (ahem, capitalists). This documentary brings us inside the lives of successful artists, architects, scientists, and journalists, who believe that one does not get happier by consuming more.
The fashion industry is killing our rivers. River Blue tackles the impact of the dumping of poisonous toxic materials from fashion factories into our rivers and oceans. The fabric dyes used by most brands contain toxic and hazardous materials that kill aquatic life. Most bodies of water beside factories of various fast fashion brands are deeply contaminated and are no longer salvageable—which is in danger of spreading toxic waste to our oceans. These chemicals exposed to our waters do not only affect marine life, but also the lives of communities and villages surrounding these rivers, who are unaware of the dangerous toxins being expelled by these factories.
The Machinists features the story of three young women who work for factories in Dhaka. It documents the exploitation of workers in Bangladesh, as they are denied of fair pay and rights. Watching the film, you will be able to see life through the lenses of these young women, as they are dreadfully treated by factory owners and bosses, and how decent healthcare is denied of them when faced with injuries brought by the very garment machines that they work with.
Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion
Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion takes three women—fashion consumers—to Cambodia to experience and witness the truth behind the clothes that they enjoy. This Norwegian reality TV series documents Cambodia’s factory life through the lenses of everyday western consumers. It is a highly emotional driven film that exposes the truth about fast fashion factory environment, and the harsh reality of what capitalism exploits, especially to third world countries.
These are just some of the films that will educate you on conscious fashion consuming. Be sure to prepare your tissues—because it will be a real eye-opening, emotional rollercoaster ride in there—but also your notebook. Take notes. What can you do to discourage this system of exploitation? If you think that the big corporations control the market, then you’re wrong. You control the market. Your likes, your needs, your wants.
Influence. Take a stand. Be aware.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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