I have just reviewed Andrew Morgan’s Documentary “The True Cost.” It is an extremely professional and entertaining film about a rather complex and sometimes gloomy subject which is the impact of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is the term used for the recent phenomenon where clothes have become so cheap (due to them being outsourced to countries like China, Bangladesh and India) that they have become disposable. Mr. Morgan starts the film with Fashion models on runways and intersperses commercials from H& M, Zara and others to make the connection between fashion and all of the problems they have created ( many that we didn’t even realize). Some of the issues brought up by the film are: “global poverty, inequality and environmental destruction” according to Producer Micheal Ross.
This independent film which was originally funded through Kickstarter (a crowd-sourcing funding source – by the way I was an Associate Producer for the film and got film credit) opened up this past week in Los Angeles, Cannes, France, New York, Tokyo and London. Many celebrities and Fashion icons had attended these premieres including Stella McCarthy, Colin Firth and Tom Ford. It opens tonight May 31, 2015 in San Francisco.
Andrew Morgan and Michael Ross went to thirteen different countries to film this ambitious project which took over two years to complete. Interwoven throughout the movie is a 23 year old Bangladeshi worker who has a 6 year old daughter and covers some of her difficulties. The reason for following a Bangladeshi worker is that Mr. Morgan was originally inspired by the Rana Plaza Building collapse that killed 1138 Bangladeshi garment workers – most of them women.
The problems from Fast Fashion: starting from the beginning, delves into the subject of cotton. But, in going very deeply into cotton, possibly Mr. Morgan was sweeping his brush a bit too widely – I mean it wasn’t wrong but it does make it difficult to cover more deeply other subjects. By bringing in organic cotton, it does bring in the subject of pesticides which cause cancer, birth defects and environmental pollution. I do admire Mr. Morgan going after Monsanto which has monopolized the farming industry in every way and have made the independent farmers poor and dependent on Monsanto itself- but some may criticize that Monsanto is not a direct linear problem due to Fast Fashion. True, Monsanto is a concurrent problem along with Fast Fashion, as is, the current state of American capitalism where profits mean everything to the exclusion of everything else. The profits over everything philosophy is defended in the documentary by Free Market advocates and Big Business Top executives – they never flinch that this might be wrong – which has always been the case with hard-core capitalists. But, it is the main point of the documentary that will still need to be debated. Is it wrong for Wal-Mart to bargain to make the Bangladesh factories make shirts for $5, and then next month see if they can make them for $4? Whose fault is it? Wal-Mart or the desperate factory owner willing to cut corners? Is it the Mega company that hires these companies and has them sign agreements that promises that they will not mistreat employees and then knowingly let these companies break these agreements or is it the companies that cut the corners in order to get the job in the race to the bottom? One obvious solution is that when the Mega companies hire “these contract Factories” that these factories automatically become employees of that Mega Company. Easy solution, however, big business will never submit to this – unless legally forced to.
Another topic brought up regarding Fast Fashion is the problems with just the sheer volume of clothing being produced – the abundant use of resources, the disposal of clothing into numerous landfills, the unintended economic consequence of used clothing dumped into Haiti and the ecological disasters it has caused.
The documentary touches on many issues, however, Mr. Morgan does not give solutions. But, it wasn’t his intent. It is hoped that this film will start some discussions on these subjects like: do we need consumerism and materialism to be happy? Isn’t it insane for us to be buying stuff we don’t need?
I highly recommend this film. See it in the theatres or you can buy it online at truecostmovie.