Eight years later, what comes from “The True Cost”, Rana Plaza? – WWD
The fashion documentary “The True Cost” has been an “a-ha” moment for many to embark on the sustainable fashion path since its release in 2015.
Today, the film’s director, Andrew Morgan, is teaming up again with Livia Firth, co-founder of the sustainable development consultancy Eco-Age, to release their latest 15-minute short film in the “Fashionscapes” video segment.
‘Fashionscapes: A Living Wage’ debuts on eighth anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster on April 24 – where more than 1,130 garment workers were killed and several thousand injured in factory collapse in Bangladesh. The short film focuses specifically on women organizing for a fashionable living wage during a pandemic. It has been shot in countries around the world using local COVID-19 compliant film crews with production support from North Sails.
Reflecting on the efforts from the Rana Plaza and the making of ‘The True Cost’ – the documentary that indescribably shaped her life – Morgan believes the conversation has long overtaken awareness, though not much has happened. systematically changed for workers.
“What are we doing about it? This is where it starts to get complicated, but also where we need to be very careful about who is leading the conversation. Because the ‘what do we do about it’ has been hijacked by brands, frankly, because they have enormous resources and a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, ”Morgan said, on the new pitfalls created since awareness has increased.
With the realization came more greenwashing and more “dishonest storytelling on behalf of the industry,” in his own words, which is why the latest short film Fashionscapes was important.
Garment workers, union activists like Kalpona Akter, and lawyers from non-governmental organizations like The Circle carry the discussion throughout the film.
“Workers are not accidentally in poverty. The workers are in poverty because the system was created to keep them in poverty, ”Thulsi Narayanasamy, business and human rights researcher, said in the film. “We have 60 to 80 million women who do not earn enough to live,” she added, stressing the scale of the problem. “[Prior to the pandemic], they were already destitute; 17 percent of workers faced hunger … most workers said they were more afraid of starving than they had been [COVID-19]. “
With a global value of $ 2.5 trillion, the fashion race to the bottom has been ripe for wage theft and wages far below countries’ potential to maintain a basic livelihood. Despite voluntary commitments from companies and the presence of international entities like the International Labor Organization, a 2019 report from The Clean Clothes Campaign found that no brand could prove that a living wage was paid to workers in countries in development.
Chan, a garment worker interviewed in the film, described the work as a “race against time” to get tasks done on time with rarely time to rest and grueling hours.
Having, through Eco-Age, advocated sustainability for more than a decade, Firth does not hesitate to put brands and retailers on the spot. While not isolated from fast fashion alone, Firth said, “The fast fashion brands that have chased civil society activists for years with a living wage are being pushed for change by a powerful alliance of women. “, Citing a” series of broken promises. [that] can now be challenged on the basis of a legal obligation to protect human rights. “
Still, Firth and Morgan are adamant about pushing for a day of justice for garment workers – and, hopefully soon, a day rooted in a legally binding framework, as champions of the film.
Throughout the film, the film supports draft European Union legislation (submitted on behalf of Lawyers Circle, a subdivision of The Circle, in April) to ensure garment workers receive a living wage.
Jessica Simor, human rights lawyer at The Circle, believes the current conversation should be steered clear of brands’ stagnant indecision over what constitutes a living wage for enforcement mechanisms inspired by cross-border law success of the EU and the treatment of “people problems” such as monetary issues have been regulated in the past.
However, a sense of urgency accompanies the latest projects.
From Rana Plaza was born the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, but the Accord will expire on May 31. Under this landmark agreement, brands and retailers are legally bound to create safe working conditions for the people who make their clothes.
The organizers (under Fashion Revolution, The Clean Clothes Campaign and more) are among investors, designers and worker groups looking for an extension that includes binding obligations for brands, while maintaining the independent character of the ‘Agreement and adding an international application.
Regarding the impact of the films he worked on on fashion, Morgan said the take-away point for viewers is that fashion is human identity. “I think what fashion offers us – as an invitation, actually – is not a new set of issues, but a very personal way of making choices that match the values we hold… I don’t want to that anyone feels a duty of guilt and shame, ”he said, equating the clothing investigation (probing a label, asking a store associate about a company’s practices) as meaningful actions in course to reject a system that creates “human rights atrocities”.
The next episode will be in June, available on YouTube and Eco-Age TV, the demystification lies in circularity, according to Morgan.
For more information, see:
Update on the Bangladesh Accord – and its global impact on clothing
The London premiere of ‘The True Cost’