One of the most compelling aspects of recently released documentary ‘The True Cost’, is that it was filmed in the two years after the Rana Plaza building collapse, making it one of the most comprehensive and current records of the fashion industry at present. If not for that alone, The True Cost is worth watching for its, often bitter sweet, visuals that transport you around the globe to 13 different countries, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Cambodia to Bangladesh. 

The documentary takes you around the world with Andrew Morgan, Michael Ross and Michael Flowe, as they seek to explore what lies behind the bright lights of our high streets clothing stores. The True Cost crew take you through the highs and lows of fashion, showing it at its very beautiful best, and its very ugly worst.

The People Tree staff were asked the question: what did you think of The True Cost documentary? It could be assumed that the staff at a Fair Trade and sustainable fashion company would be a tough crowd, given their knowledge of the industry, yet all of the staff were equally impressed with the film and all took something valuable away.

“The True Cost is a very powerful film that is a necessity for every person who wears clothes to watch. Despite working in ethical fashion, each time I’ve seen the film I’ve learnt something new. Through True Cost, not only do I feel sickened and appalled by the fashion industries dirty impact on our delicate earth and the abuse to the people who make our clothes, but also motivated by the many change makers. Particularly Shima, a Bangladeshi garment worker who creates a union at her work, or the people and the companies who continue to argue and prove that there has to be an alternative to the fast fashion model: one that respects workers throughout the supply chain and the land we live in.” Mia, PR Officer

For Jeremy our Marketing Executive, it helped him visualise the people behind the statistics. Daily at People Tree we talk about garment factory tragedies and garment workers’ rights, but among the facts and figures, the human element is often lost.

“Sometimes compassion is lost behind statistics and facts, you forget that garment workers and victims of factory tragedies are just like your neighbours and friends. Through the telling of personal stories The True Cost really allowed you to feel that sense of connection, which translates into a sense of responsibility as a consumer.”

Interestingly, for our Digital Marketing and E-commerce manager Mkwama, it highlighted the impact of advertising, and the trickledown effect that has on not only garment workers but also on the consumers themselves and their sense of self and self-esteem. It brings to the fore our insatiable need to buy ‘stuff’ in order to be happy, when in fact it can actually lead to a sense of guilt and inadequacy for shoppers.

Lisa who currently works on customer services said it was one of the most effective fashion documentaries she has seen. Lisa has a Masters Degree in ‘International Fashion and Management’ and focused her thesis on ‘mainstreaming sustainable fashion, so is well versed in this area. Lisa emphasises that the documentary has really stuck with her since she watched it. When asked why, she hesitates, “I can’t really tell you or I might cry.

Director Andrew Morgan considers the documentary an invitation to the viewer. An invitation to be a part of making the kind of world we want to live in. The True Cost really gives visibility to the invisible in the high street fashion supply chains. Not only does it encourage you as a consumer to question, but it does the questioning for you.

It is now left up to us to share this knowledge, and share the stories presented in The True Cost and for us to continue questioning, and looking for answers. This quote from Edward Everett Hale, who was a firm supporter in the abolition of slavery in the 1800’s, is motivational and holds true today. “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do.”  If we, as individuals don’t question, push for change, and demand better standards who will? Please join us and join Andrew in being a part of that change.