Reflections on “The True Cost”: The Truth You Didn’t Want to Know About Fashion


Last Wednesday, May the 17th, Up-fuse hosted an event film screening the documentary movie about the Fashion Industry called  “The True Cost”. Directed by Andrew Morgan, The True Cost is a movie about “the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world.” The movie shows how fast fashion has transformed our environment and society.

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The audience at Up-fuse studio

The event hosted around 42 attendees, our studio was filled with people from different age groups and mix of genders. We also invited different local designers and brands to join and talk about their brand, like Fufa, La Reina, Studio 81, Rohana, and Kiliim. It was nice seeing the diversity, while realising that each and everyone of them shared something in common, they all have something to give. Whether they were aware or not of what the movie was about to offer, and about to change their perspective completely about Fashion. They all have the urge to do something worthwhile.

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Rania Rafie, the co-founder of Up-fuse, reflecting on the True Cost

And speaking of what “The True Cost” had to offer, here are some reflections and learnings from the movie:

1. The Fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world.

Believe it or not, right after the oil industry, the second most polluting industry is Fashion. From the beginning of the fabric or leather making process, the amount of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and dyes that are used in the process do not just suddenly disappear. They affect the lives of those working in the industry, and the environment around it (the soil, the air, and water). All the way till the waste thrown away in the process, to the textile waste generated after the clothes are thrown away.

2. 97% of fashion production is produced in developing countries.

Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves why? Of course! Cheap cost of labor, no legal restrictions whatsoever on “sustaining” the environment because of production. And as the industry is growing more and more, so is the competition! So what would brands pretty much do, is cutting expenses to reduce price. And who else can they cut costs on? The labor of course that can’t ask for their rights and needs, which results in very low safety measures.

3. Workers start working at age of 12.

No child labor regulations whatsoever.

4. 4 million workers of fashion are based in Bangladesh

Read more about the Rana Plaza incident of workers in Bangladesh here

5. 3 dollars a day is their salary.

Minimum wage? I don’t think so.

6. Fast fashion doesn’t care about you.

So thanks to Fashion, we’re all going to look good so we eventually feel good. But that’s not the whole truth, we’ll never be satisfied enough, because the only way Fast Fashion makes money is by making you buy more, and more and so much more. That the only one is getting richer here are the big fat companies, not you, not the society, and definitely not the environment.

7. Fair Trade organisations insure that production is held under safe conditions.

A social response to the production injustice on the environment and the society.

Now that we have opened our eyes, and found about the ugly truth, what can we do about it? After all, the consumers are the most important decision maker. Because if you don’t buy, these brands won’t be as powerful. If you demand transparency in production, the brands will listen to what the customers need.

So What to Do?

1. Buy more from locally sourced brands (like Kiliim, Fufa, Up-fuse, La Reina and Studio 81..etc.)

2. Know more about the values of each brand you are buying form.

Where do they produce their garments? What are they made of? What do they stand for, and what do they support?

3. Don’t  over-consume. Buy what you really need.

Not what you “think” you need, or what everything else arounds you urges you to need. Something I personally do is when I find something I like, I wait for a week or two, if it’s still stuck in my head, and I can afford it at the moment (literally afford it, not “credit card” afford it :D) then I go buy it

4. Make sure, the product you are buying doesn’t have any toxic materials or other environmentally non-friendly materials.

Could you find an organic alternative? Can you afford it? If yes, then go ahead!

We hope this has been a bit helpful. Hopefully next year we can have an even bigger film screening event to reach out to more audience. In case you can’t wait and want to watch the movie, you can buy it or rent it online from here.

Here are a couple of pictures from the event:

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We’d really like to thank everyone who made it. Each and everyone has helped spread awareness about slow fashion and ethical production, creating a demand for more socially and environmentally conscious products.

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