It’s easy to think of clothing as something disposable and quickly replaced. As a society, we are conditioned to buy new clothes whenever they get old or worn out. This has created an unsustainable culture of disposability for our Planet and wallets.
What if we stopped thinking about our clothes from an economic perspective and started thinking about them emotionally?
What if, instead of buying a new pair of jeans every six months, we bought a few pairs in different colors and kept them forever? What if our closets weren’t filled with items we haven’t worn in years? What if we could look at each piece of clothing in our closet and say: “This was made with love and care by people who deserve to be paid fairly.”
That’s what sustainable fashion is about: finding ways to relate to your clothes differently than you do now.
The truth is that changing our habits isn’t always simple or easy. If you’re looking for inspiration and guidance, there are many ways to find what you want.
One of my favorite ways is through film. These sustainable fashion documentaries can help us learn more about the world around us since they are potent windows into different realities.
So, whether you’re looking for a mesmerizing watch for a rainy day or are just interested to learn more about the reality behind the fashion industry, I have compiled a list of five documentaries for you to add to your watch list!
The True Cost
The True Cost is a 2015 documentary film directed by Andrew Morgan that chronicles the fashion industry with a focus on fast fashion. The film starts with the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, which killed around a thousand textile workers. It discusses the different aspects of the garment industry, including how it affects people’s lives worldwide and how it can be improved.
The documentary has much to say about what happens when we buy clothing made in poor conditions and under poor circumstances. It shows us how the clothes we’re used to wearing are made and what happens to those who make them. It also talks about how this affects us as consumers—for example if we buy from brands that use child labor or mistreat their employees.
Watch This If
Watch this if you want to learn about the workings of the fast fashion industry and learn about the people, animals, and natural ecosystems that are affected by it.
Watch The True Cost Trailer Here
One of the most compelling, evocative, and attractive elements of fashion is color. But the story behind what it takes to create all the rainbow hues we see in stores isn’t very pretty.
River Blue is a 2016 documentary that follows Mark Angelo as he journeys to some of the world’s most beautiful and polluted rivers.
The documentary details the harmful impacts of water pollution on natural ecosystems and the risks posed to workers in close contact with synthetic dyes. It also describes how marginalized communities living near garment factories are affected by pollution.
Watch The River Blue Trailer Here
Watch This If
Watch this if you want to learn more about how the fashion industry contributes highly to the pollution and contamination of water worldwide.
Fashionscapes is a 2021 five-part documentary series by Andrew Morgan and Livia Firth. After working together in The True Cost and disclosing unknown issues of the fashion industry in a distressing manner, they’ve created Fashionscapes.
It grew out of illustrating a series of solutions to the issues highlighted in the previous film. Each fifteen-minute episode investigates different aspects of production chains. You’ll travel to Tasmania, Guatemala, and Botswana on a journey that takes you deep into wool production, Mayan women artisans, and diamond mining.
The series features interviews with activists and change-makers advocating for a more just and sustainable fashion future.
Watch This If
Watch this to learn about fashion supply chains worldwide and how we can work together toward a more sustainable industry.
Cotton Road is a 2012 documentary film about cotton’s global supply chain.
Cotton is a common material in our wardrobes. We wear it, we sleep on it, and we decorate our houses with it. But how many of us know the truth about the journey of that cotton before it ends up in our favorite dress or pair of jeans?
Cotton Road explores a contemporary landscape of globalized labor through human stories and provides an opportunity to reflect on how our consumption impacts others and drives a global economy.
Watch This If
Watch this if you want to learn more about the worldwide cotton supply chain.
Watch The Cotton Road Trailer Here
Made In Bangladesh
Made In Bangladesh is a 2020 film by Rubaiyat Hossain. It’s the story of Shimu, a 23-year-old who works in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Shimu decides to start a union with her co-workers after one gets killed in a fire. Despite threats from management and her husband’s disapproval, she is determined to continue.
It is not a documentary, but it does provide a powerful social commentary on the impacts of exploitative labor practices and the importance of collective organizing.
This film tells the story of exploitation and empowerment and how these themes are present in all facets of life.
Watch This If
Watch this if you want to learn more about garment workers’ experiences in Bangladesh and how unionization can improve their conditions.