Fashion, OldVenue

The True Cost

The True Cost is a documentary that discusses the issues within the clothing industry, particularly the ever growing gap between manufacturing costs and selling prices. Fast fashion has transformed the way in which clothing is processed from factory to franchise and has led to businesses trying to develop new designs whilst continuing to maintain attractive prices for us, the consumer. The documentary asks us to think about the lives of those who make the garments we love so much, and whether it’s really something we want to buy into.

A quick Google search will be able to tell you that many of our high-street favourites are produced in countries where the wages are almost non-existent and the working conditions are often awful. The aim of a successful company is to keep production costs low whilst making as much money as possible. In order to do this, you will find companies approaching factory owners with bare minimum payments in exchange for labour – a deal that is only met by the factory owners because it’s probably the best they’ll get. They also have employees who need to take care of their families, and secondly there are many other factories that can be approached if they decline. The manufacturers end up cutting corners and using unsafe measures to meet production which in turn presents health and safety risks.

A perfect example of this is Dakar, Bangladesh where an eight storey building collapsed, subsequently making front-page news. The accidents and deaths caused were put down to factory owners ignoring evacuation requests, instead choosing to concentrate on meeting clothing orders. The workers had warned of the poor structure and cracks in the building, but these warnings fell on deaf ears. If there was one positive that came from this incident, however, it was that fast fashion was finally being talked about, and those most vulnerable were seen to be carrying the most risk. In this incident alone more than 1,000 people were killed and it was soon followed by two more disasters making them the three of the worst fashion disasters, all occurring in the same year.

Incidents such as these force the fashion industry to hold serious conversations about human rights: the right to safety, the right to be heard, the right to satisfaction of basic needs, and the right to a healthy environment. We have to ask why it is that in a multibillion dollar industry it is those producing the goods that suffer the most. Questions are then prompted as to why there are such poor working conditions, why there is child labour, why the workers are earning way less than the UK/EU/US minimum wage, despite the companys selling in these countries?  Why are they unable to make ends meet and live in decent safe accommodation with utilities and decent meals, why are their conditions not meeting labour costs? They have jobs, but at what cost?

The True Cost is an excellent and truly eye-opening documentary as it delves into these issues in more depth ,giving consumers more food for thought. It illustrates ways that we, the consumers, can actively contribute to achieving better conditions for factory workers, reducing exploitation and allowing us to move towards a more ethical industry. The more we come together to oppose these conditions, the sooner the big stores will consider actively becoming more ethical. Nobody should suffer at the cost of another’s pleasure or enjoyment. As consumers we must begin to take steps towards aweness of what you’re wearing, where it originates from and how it was made in order to beat the huge problems in the industry.


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January 2022
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