When The True Cost was released earlier this year, the reviews raised some concerns about what the film did not do. While the filmmaker did a good job of showing the various problems – environmental, social, and economic – of fast fashion, there were few solutions to the problems offered. The film also focuses solely on fast fashion, when the reality is that the problems associated with textile and clothing production is not limited to that one sector of the industry.
I was able to see The True Cost because it just became available on Netflix. It is also available on iTunes and Amazon Instant, so if you have any of these services, it is worth watching. No, the film is not perfect, but it is a good view of many of the problems the world faces due to “fashion.”
As I watched the film, I was pretty much overwhelmed by the amount of human suffering that is caused by the clothing industry. The filmmaker, Andrew Morgan, follows one woman in Bangladesh, telling the story of how she has to take her small child to live with her parents in their village while she is working in a sewing factory in the city. It is very effective. I was also amazed at the massive piles of textile waste. It really does make you stop and think.
But where the film goes astray is in offering solutions. I was almost left with the impression that if we all just stopped being consumers, then the problems would just go away. One of the persons interviewed (who is a 9/11 truther, though that was not brought up in the film) even said that the only solution was to abolish capitalism. He may be right, but how likely is it that either of these things is going to happen?
After watching the film I was left with a feeling that I never wanted to go shopping again. But the film was not really aimed at me because I’m not much of a consumer of fashion. I sew most of my clothes using mainly fabrics that I’ve bought secondhand. The message of The True Cost is not hitting its intended audience, the consumers of fast fashion. The people who might really be influenced by the film are unlikely to see it. Several teenage girls were shown in the movie posting their “haul” videos, in which they get on YouTube and brag about all the cheap stuff they just bought.
Maybe there should be a second version in which two cute and famous young celebrities narrate and feature in the film. Then it might be more likely to get the audience that it needs. In the meantime, The True Cost is preaching to the choir.