The True Cost movie is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.
I think you probably all know by now, so it’s safe to say that I am on the left side of the political spectrum (a recent Facebook survey entitled “how left are you” confirmed it, deciding that I was 100% left-wing, hum?). I regularly express my anger when I see power and wealth misused both here and abroad but sometimes the gravest injustices are so glaringly obvious that we happen to ignore them.
So this time it’s the fashion supply chain that is about to feel my fury. It’s an issue that I have always felt passionately about and yet it’s also a subject that can too often feel very far away. There are some struggles that look incredibly daunting and for me the fashion supply is the perfect example of this. Yet it largely faces a quite kind of criticism, that kind that surfaces it’s head occasionally and then disappears for another while.
For most people the 24th April 2013 will have just been another ordinary day, nothing special, nothing to remember, just another day in the office. Yet for thousands of people it was a day that changed their lives forever, a day that marked a change that would affect their every day lives and a day that would always haunt them. The 24th April 2013 was the day that the Rana plaza collapsed, killing more than 1100 people. The building was in a state of disrepair and despite the workers having pointed this out earlier in the day, they were forced to carry on working, the end result being the worst imaginable conclusion. In the aftermath of the disaster many garments were found at the scene, most baring the labels of huge high-street stores.
Yet an extended documentary entitled the True Cost Movie is challenging the industry, raising series concerns and issues about the clothes that we were everyday. Perhaps it’s time that we become conscious consumers and start asking the question – where do our clothes really come from?
The fashion supply chain has become murky, twisted and often retailers seem to be less than clued up on where their clothes are coming from. In this arena, which is based on competition and making the best profit combined with our desire to bag a bargain, it’s easy to see how the waters get muddy. The True Cost Movie discusses just a handful of the worst abuses of this scenario and the situation is pretty devastating – worker’s rights abandoned (employees often get locked in to factories despite regular fires breaking out, workers paid a pittance and as the Rana Plaza disaster points out a huge disrespect for health and safety) and the environmental impact is also huge.
Have you ever heard someone remark that “they don’t make things like they used?”. That is completely the case because our fast fashion culture mean that things are made cheap, ensuring we can change our style as quickly and cheaply as we like. Our parents, grandparents, great grandparents will have witnessed the fast changing fashion culture because it has sprung up with fast fashion. The rise of capitalism and the globalisation of the economy encouraged this change and as one commentator in the film remarks, we now have 52 seasons and no longer just the four.
This is about human rights, specifically working rights but it’s about more than that. It’s about the fashion industry, the fast fashion culture within which we live and the “get as rich as possible” mantra. The fashion industry is perhaps the greatest and most poignant example of the negative impact that capitalism has had on the world. It demonstrate failure greater than any other industry in the grip of capitalism and radiates the money-over-morals attitude that is so often connected to it.
So what has been done since the Rana Plaza? The answer is sadly, not a lot and it’s time for us consumers to put pressure on the high-street to challenge the Status Quo. It’s all well and good for me to suggest you “boycott” the biggest culprits but for those of us on squeezed wages, that is simply not possible and the responsibility HAS to be placed on the companies, not the cash strapped consumers. In a globalised economy it’s a positive thing for other countries to be given the opportunity to work but ultimately the companies invest in these countries because they offer cheaper manufacturing but cheaper does NOT have to mean pittance. So let’s encourage these companies to offer FAIR pay and ensure that British standards of health and safety laws are adopted at all items. Let’s pressure them to fully investigate their supply chains, to ensure that bad practice does not happen.
So I’ve decided to make several pledges because I want to play my part in the fight back.
- I took the pledge on Take Part website.
- I am going to organise a Welsh blogging event, based around the issue. It will include brands that are conscious companies, hopefully a showing of the documentary and a regulated fashion swap!
- Tweet brands regularly to ask them what they are doing?
- Buy clothes as I need them and NOT as I want them.
We can raise awareness of the issue, challenge the abuses and ask questions at every opportunity.
Make a start by watching the True Cost Movie and signing the pledge!
Human life should come first, not profit.