The film The True Cost is a story about clothing. It is 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?
Dana Geffner, Executive Director of Fair World Project, sat down with the Director of The True Cost to learn why this story was so important to tell and what we as consumers can do to stop exploitation in the clothing industry.
Q: Why did you decide to make this movie and tell this story?
Andrew: I do not have a background in fashion and never thought about making this kind of film. I started to become interested about the role that business plays in the world in relation to human rights, extreme poverty, inequality and environmental impact. I began to believe that solutions to our problems will invariably be through business. As a filmmaker, it was too big to tackle, and I could not get my arms around that film. Then I picked up the newspaper and read about this clothing factory collapsing in Rana Plaza [in Bangladesh] and read that, at the time of the collapse, they were making clothes for major western brands that I knew. I read this horrifying account of how something I interact with every day in my world is having this unseen impact in other peoples’ lives all over the world. That instantly grabbed me, and within a week, we decided this was a film we wanted to make.
Q: The film shows locations from all over the world. Where did you go, and whom did you interview?
Andrew: We filmed in thirteen countries. This needed to be a global film because it is one of the true major global issues of our times. It does not matter what country you live in, this affects human beings, and I wanted to make a film that went to so many places that you almost forgot where you were. So the focus is not really on the place, but rather that it is our shared home. So that took us to really rich, beautiful parts of the world. We filmed during all the major fashion weeks in London, Paris, Milan, New York and Los Angeles. It also took us all over Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, India and Uganda. The focus was really on the stories of the people we followed.
We followed a twenty-two year-old garment worker named Shima Akter who works in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We followed a woman named Safia Minney, who owns a fair trade clothing company called People Tree, in London and Tokyo. And then we followed a cotton farmer in Luc, Texas named Lorey Pepper. Around those three stories we met a whole bunch of experts, from economists to really big influencers in the fashion space, and both activists and traditional designers, people like Stella McCartney and brands like Patagonia.