5 Films That Uncover The Fashion Industry’s Dirty Secrets About How It Treats Garment Workers
Posted by      03/08/2021 18:17:25     We Love Fair Trade!    0 Comments
5 Films That Uncover The Fashion Industry’s Dirty Secrets About How It Treats Garment Workers

Here are five powerful documentaries you can watch to find out about how the fashion industry mistreats garment workers. Remember, knowledge is power, and you do have the power to change the world with every informed choice you make. 

#1: Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion

“It started off as a web-series, charting the experiences of three young fashion bloggers, who spent a month living the life of Cambodian garment workers in Phnom Penh. But following headlines and articles all over the world, more than a million hits and many inquires, the web-series has been re-versioned into an hour-long documentary. Frida, Anniken and Ludwig live, breathe and dream fashion. They spend hundreds of euros every month on clothes and make a living promoting the latest catwalk trends. Aside from the speculation that factory workers must be ‘used to’ their hard lives, they have never given much thought to the people who make their clothes. Now, they’re trading their comfortable lives for those of Cambodian garment workers. As well as working in the factories, they have to survive on $3 a day. But this is no exploitative doc, relying on shock value. It poignantly shows the consequences of cheap fashion.”

#2: The Machinists

“The Machinists’ is a 2010 British documentary which follows the daily lives of workers who make clothes for popular high street brands like Primark, H&M and Zara in the garment factories of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The stories of the machinists forces us to confront the reality of our cheap, ready-to-buy clothes through demystifying their origins. The rise of garment factories which push out mountains of clothing are a result of supply and demand from shoppers on western high streets. This problem is not an unknown one, as strikes, unsafe working conditions and fatal fires occasionally make headlines. We are complicit in this terrible system however when something like the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 happens, and our passive consumerism, allows it to continue. In the Global North we continue lie to ourselves, aghast that at what happens somewhere far away, believing that we are simply observing from the sidelines.”

#3: The True Cost

“This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.”


#4: Fashion Victims

“Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Millions of adolescents and young women work in the textile industry, from the cotton weaving to the production of ready-to-wear garments, for both the local and the international market. They often come from poor and rural areas, where there are no income alternatives neither for them nor for their families, especially given the constant and persistent decline of agriculture. It is in these villages that the “brokers”, acting as intermediaries between the companies in need of a sizable and docile workforce, and a local population ever more desperate, every year recruit hundreds of thousands of girls. The girls are taken to the companies, where, besides working, they will also be living in factory hostels, although often they - nor their families and even some brokers – are not aware of this. They are enrolled through so called recruitment and exploitation schemes; one of the most known is the ‘Sumangali scheme’. Under the scheme, the girls must work between three and five years: exhausting shifts, up to twenty hours a day, in dangerous conditions, they are deprived of the freedom of movement and to communicate with the outside world, and they do not receive a monthly salary, but only a very small amount of money for their daily needs. At the end of the stated period of work, they should receive the cumulative payment of what they have earned over the years – between five hundred and eight hundred euro. They dream of being able to use that money as a dowry for their wedding. Instead, what often happens are work accidents, missed payments, escapes, suicides, sexual violence, and even murders. The girls themselves, by narrating their past and their future, draw a picture of the daily cruelty of a production system in which the first fashion victims are they themselves, violated in the body and in their dreams, to produce what we wear everyday.”

#5: Udita (Arise)

“Life, death, oppression and resistance - 5 Years with the women of Bangladesh's sweatshops and their fight for a better life. Produced by RAINBOW COLLECTIVE and OPENVIZOR, 'UDITA' follows a turbulent 5 years in the lives of the women at the grass roots of the garment workers struggle. From 2010, when organising in the workplace would lead to beatings, sacking and arrests; through the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza, and to the present day, when the long fight begins to pay dividends. We see this vital period through the eyes of the unions' female members, workers and leaders. 'UDITA' weaves together characters from acclaimed documentaries, 'The Machinists' [2010] and 'Tears in the Fabric' [2014] with new faces and scenes, filmed in 2015 with the women at the front line of the struggle.“

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