I have experienced an aftershock. An aftershock of powerful proportions after watching the True Cost movie. I’ve watched a lot of fashion documentaries, but this one made me do something the others did not. It made me think.
How can we wear clothes from conglomerations, companies and brands made in such desperate conditions?
That is the question this movie forces you to ask yourself just five minutes into watching it. Sure, it was very factual, stating all the statistics that I had researched and more, but it was also moving and emotional. It told the stories of people from all walks of life, as well as representatives from H&M, the brand that perfected fast fashion and people like Safia Minney, the CEO of PeopleTree, a company trying to counteract the affects of fast fashion. And then there were the stories from the garment workers themselves. Mothers, like Shima Akhter who had to leave their children behind to be raised by relatives. Women who lost limbs because of the Rana Plaza disaster. Human beings forced to work in terrible conditions, making our clothes, just to scrape by.
As Lucy Siegle asks, where is their piece of the pie? The rich are getting richer (The CEO of Zara is the second richest man in the world) and the poor are getting poorer because we have to have the latest fashion at the lowest prices and we have to have it now. The ability for us to have instant gratification, especially since we can buy products online, has made us unconscious consumers. We buy without thinking where our clothes came from, what they are made out of and whose blood, sweat and tears went into them.
When we finished watching the film, my husband turned to me and said,
“You know, I bet most of the people from our generation don’t know how to fix their own clothes.”
And he’s right. I barely know how to sew a button. Fast fashion has made us lazy. When something falls apart we just get a new one. So if you’re not into buying ethical or sustainable products, think about it this way, our clothes are now made to fall apart so we have to buy new ones. We are sold low-quality products so we have to constantly shop for new clothes. We are being ripped off. You may think you are getting a bargain when you buy a t-shirt for five pounds, but when you buy a t-shirt for five pounds every two months, you’re most certainly losing money to a company that exploits workers and our world.
My question to those fast fashion giants: How can you sleep at night?