New Film Documents the True Cost of Fashion

True Cost MovieWhen Andrew Morgan picked up the newspaper one morning in 2013, his heart broke and his socially-conscious-filmmaker mind went into overdrive. That April he read about the catastrophic collapse of a Bangladeshi factory that killed more than 1,100 garment workers. For the next two years, he decided to devote himself to documenting the untold story of the people and places that pay the price for the clothes we wear – the result of which is the documentary film “The True Cost,” which premiers worldwide today.

“Before making this film, there was so much I didn’t know because I was one of those people who didn’t really think about what I wear,” Andrew Morgan, director of “The True Cost,” told TriplePundit in a recent interview. “The [apparel] industry is built upon the assumption that you and I don’t care and we won’t ask questions about how our clothes are made. I want to reveal the curtain and show people what’s going on, so we can all say that we want something better.”

The 90-minute film exposes the social and environmental costs associated with our current global apparel system and explores the unsustainable business model that has increasingly become the status quo.

Including interviews with such figures as environmental activist Vandana Shiva, organic cotton advocate LaRhea Pepper and Fair Trade fashion pioneer Safia Minney (and many more), the film takes the viewer on a journey around the globe to witness the high cost of cheap clothing – from chemically intensive, cancer-causing cotton farms in Texas to deadly garment worker protests in Cambodia.

“When you spend time in these countries with these people, the reality of the impact is felt on a really deep level,” Morgan said. “You can hear a statistic and it can sound distant, but being in a place where you’re seeing waste pollute local water, where 80 percent of children are sick, you see that this isn’t hypothetical – you see that this is a reality.”

While the film does a formidable job of giving a voice to the silent soldiers who sacrifice much to make what we wear and fuel our Western way of life, the one voice that is palpably absent from the film is that of big fashion retailers – those global companies who undeniably have a say in how our clothes are manufactured and marketed. According to the film, producers invited a number of major clothing brands (none specifically named) to be interviewed, but they declined to comment.

Considering that the trillion-dollar apparel industry is the second largest polluter in the world (behind the oil industry), not saying anything says a lot.

Even so, the film tells a compelling, and increasingly important, story about the high social and environmental price of our world’s growing materialism. As the film highlights, the more labor is outsourced to developing countries and clothing prices go down, the more external costs go up – and that is a problem.

“I’m hopeful that people will watch this film and have a shift in consciousness,” Morgan told us. “I want people to never be able to pick up a piece of clothing in the same way. I don’t look at clothes the same way anymore.

“The process of making this film changed my life.”

I think this film might change your life, too.

Check out the film’s trailer below:

Image courtesy of “The True Cost”

Nayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli Gonzalez is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Conveners.org, a capacity building organization that supports the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners and accelerators. A sustainability innovation strategist and storyteller dedicated to purpose-driven work, Nayelli has advised startups, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to drive engagement and amplify positive impact in the world. She's a trained journalist with an MBA who writes on sustainable business and social impact trends for a variety of publications.