'The True Cost' Dives Into the Dark Side of Fast Fashion
Director Andrew Morgan weighs in on what he hopes viewers will walk away with after seeing the documentary.
"I don't want people to walk away from this film and love the clothing they wear less or think less of fashion," said Andrew Morgan at the L.A. premiere of his fashion documentary, The True Cost, which dives deep into the fashion industry — specifically fast fashion — and its impact on factory workers and the environment. "It wasn't just, 'Here's a downer, a depressing thing.' It was like, 'We could do better.' "
The film shares shocking insights into the billion-dollar business, including the fact that fashion is the second largest polluter after the oil industry, and that harmful pesticides from genetically-modified cotton farming have led to increased cancer and birth-defect rates. That said, Morgan hopes audience members walk away with the sense that they can be part of a change in improving the current state of fast fashion.
"It's alarming; parts of it are horrifying, but it's also very hopeful," says Morgan, who enlists the help of Livia Firth, Stella McCartney, People Tree founder Safia Minney and Redress founder Christina Dean, among others, to take part in the discussion of disposable fashion.
"A lot of the things we face in our world, we feel like we can't have any control over it, but this is one of those things where we could adjust this. We could actually fix this in our lifetime."
Following the news of the Bangladesh garment building collapse in 2013, the filmmaker decided to dive deeper into the topic with his documentary. One of the lessons he learned while filming and traveling around the globe came from "experiencing the effects of massive groups of people who aren't paid a living wage."
"That sounds simple when you say it, but to be in country after country where you have people working — these aren't people who are waiting there for something, they are working hard everyday. And they're not making enough to make life work in some of the worst slums in the city," says Morgan. "Seeing the effect that has on the community and these families in these countries, that feels incredibly unnecessary." During the film, one garment worker from Bangladesh says when she tried to form an union to fight for better work conditions and wages, she and her colleagues ended up getting physically abused by the managers.
So, does this mean you have to give up shopping at Zara or H&M? Not necessarily, but instead, Morgan suggests finding "things that you really love and invest in those things and stop just consuming endless amounts of cheap throwaway clothing. ... It's about slowing down, becoming more thoughtful."
One famous face who agrees with Morgan? Amber Valletta, who attended Friday's screening at the Laemmle Music Hall.
"I think [the film] really brings to light the imminent issues we have to face within the clothing and textile industry," says the actress, who founded e-commerce company Master and Muse. "Clothing is how we express ourselves. And it's fun. It should be fun, but the fact that it's killing people and the environment — it's not so pretty. We have a great responsibility and great opportunity to make huge changes in the world. Not just for the planet, but for people and workers' rights."