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The True Cost Takes a Hard Look on the Human and Environmental Price of Fashion

There’s a lot of talk within the fashion industry about how the business can be made more sustainable. Fast and luxury fashion are the source of so much pollution and a hotbed of human and worker’s rights violations for many of the people who actually craft the garments. It’s easy to see that the way we make clothes these days is not only hurting our environment, but is also fracturing our societies. True Cost, a film directed by Andrew Morgan, explores this dark side of the fashion industry, the garment workers who suffer and the dire damage mass producing clothing is doing to the environment. 

In the film, the fashion industry is noted as the second most polluting in the world after the oil business, a statistic Morgan later credited to the Danish Fashion Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature. Morgan, who raised $76,456 through a Kickstarter to put the film together, traveled to 13 countries to research and capture just how harmful and unsustainable the industry really is. The film is widely said to be one that will really make you rethink picking up that $10 H&M skater dress. That a near $3 trillion dollar industry can’t “afford” to make sure some of the people most instrumental to keeping it afloat have even basic rights in their workplaces or livable wages is certainly enough to get audiences to at least be more thoughtful when they shop. The film is filled with eye-popping statistics, like one that claims that 2014, the year after that devastating Rana Plaza building collapse, the fast fashion industry amassed sales of $72 billion dollars, making it its most profitable year. 

The film paints a bleak picture of the industry, but the good news is some high and low fashion retailers have begun to address some of the inherent problems in mass producing clothing. H&M has been quite transparent about the impact its clothing has on the environment, publishing sustainability reports every year, complete with their goals for leaving less of a footprint. Kering just released a report on its environmental impact, which found that the majority of their footprint comes in the production phase.

The True Cost definitely shows the bleaker side of fashion but hopefully, jarring films like this will help keep the public informed about the changes that desperately need to be made, and hopefully will help bring us closer to actually improving the impact fashion has on the environment and helping workers. 

The True Cost hits theaters and iTunes today. Watch the trailer above.

[via NYT, LAT]