• Mata Traders
  • 16 Jun, 2015

Two weeks ago a new documentary called ‘The True Cost’ premiered in Chicago, and the ladies at Mata wouldn’t miss it for the world – we’d been waiting for this screening for weeks. Afterwards there was a discussion panel, and we all got to meet the director himself, Andrew Morgan!

Morgan takes a look at the fashion industry and asks the pressing question, “What is the true cost of the mass production of apparel?” With chilling contrasts, from fashion-obsessed American consumers to the slums of Bangladesh factory workers, The True Cost examines how the fashion industry is driving our consumerist society to buy large amounts of clothing at impossibly low prices. This competition to produce the fastest, cheapest clothing leads to garment factory owners cutting as many corners as possible, ultimately resulting in devastating consequences. The film specifically recalls the 2013 garment factory collapse in Bangladesh where the death toll was over 1000, making it one of the greatest industrial catastrophes in history – one which could easily have been avoided.

A powerful aspect of the film was its ability to profile the personal stories of people who are directly affected by the fast fashion industry’s practices. A woman from Bangladesh named Shima shares her story of working in unsafe and unfair conditions: she and other women were locked in their workroom and were brutally beaten for trying to unionize. Throughout the movie, Shima is strong and collected but breaks down when she explains the heartbreaking decision to send her daughter far away to have family members raise her. Her options for childcare were limited, and many days she was forced to bring her daughter to an unsafe workplace. In order to provide her with an education and better life, Shima had no other choice but to leave her daughter with family so she wouldn’t have to suffer in the same way she has. Shima’s emotional story shows the painful decisions and resiliency of many garment factory workers in the industry.

This is just one of the many examples of how the cost of fast fashion is not just measured in money, but more drastically measured in human lives. During the discussion panel the director emphasized how he didn’t want people walking out of the film feeling guilty, because guilt was the result of inaction, but rather he hoped the audience would leave feeling angry, sad, and inspired to make difference.

Seeing the compilation of moving interviews, captivating imagery, and heart-wrenching stories in this documentary reminded us all why fair trade is so important and how supporting an alternative to fast fashion is part of the solution to change an established and unfair system.

We recommend checking it out– you can now stream it on Amazon and iTunes.

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