The True Cost
Groundbreaking investigation of fast fashion reveals that while the price of clothing has been decreasing for decades the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically.
Directed by Andrew Morgan
Produced by Michael Ross
Associate Producer: Laura Piety
Sound Mix and Design: Michael Flow
Co-Executive Producers: Livia Firth, Lucy Siegle, Vincent Vittorio, Christopher L. Harvey
Original Music: Duncan Blickenstaff
An Untold Production in association with Life is My Movie Entertainment
[Note: Community screenings of THE TRUE COST can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"A portrait of exploitation that ought to make us more nauseated than elated over those $20 jeans." Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
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, Vandana Shiva and Richard Wolff, 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.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2015
Copyright Date: 2015
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-545-9
"[With] President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, citing economic 'unfairness' to American workers, the documentary The True Cost feels powerfully relevant right now."
Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain Journal
"A gripping and provocative film exposing the human and environmental costs of the global fashion industry. It is an invaluable tool for encouraging students to think critically about the global inequalities and social injustices of the production and consumption of 'fast fashion.' Fascinating interviews with people seeking solutions at all levels of the industry provide concrete ideas for taking social action."
Fran Mascia-Lees, Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
"A vivid documentation of the labor and environmental cost of our pursuit of cheap clothes. The challenge it poses is direct: how can we stop this?...Allies (consumers), laws, and unions: these are the three pillars that support decent lives for workers. The True Cost reveals what our sisters and brothers endure without these supports. Global capitalism is the architecture that poses the challenge of our era. The keystone that will complete an arc that bends toward justice is workers' voice and power."
Robert J.S. Ross, Dissent Magazine
"Rarely is any of this noted with urgency by the mainstream media, and industry shills and right-wingers continue to defend this virtual slavery as providing employment for the downtrodden...Recommended."
C. Cassady, Video Librarian
"Highly Recommended...An important film for all consumers, and should be required viewing for those entering the fashion industry (or really, any industry that sources and moves goods globally)...An excellent introduction to the complexities and inequalities of global consumerism."
Jen Wong, University of Texas at Austin, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Wide-ranging...thought provoking...Very valuable for lessons about economics, the environment, and international relations."
Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, School Library Journal
"This is the very best of all the documentaries I have seen about the fashion industry...The filmmakers show how clothing companies waste the lives of young women in the 'third world.' Their greed also threatens the 'first world' in a way that ultimately threatens the planet. This is a film you must see!"
Ellen Rosen, Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Author, Making Sweatshops: The Globalization of the U.S. Apparel Industry
"Powerful, wide-ranging...informative and troubling film...Suitable for high school classes and college courses in cultural anthropology, economic anthropology, environmental anthropology, anthropology of work, and anthropology of social justice, and globalization studies, as well as for general audiences."
Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database
"A wide-ranging exploration of the industry in several sites...A forceful message...An ambitious film."
Rebecca Prentice, Anthropology of Work Review
"Encourages the viewer to get off the conveyer belt of constant motion and focus on the living things that breathe life into garments...Watching the documentary, you are reminded that cheap fashion might be friendly on the wallet but harmful for humanity."
Jasmine Bager, Huffington Post
"Workers unions in the United States have lost a lot of muscle they struggled so hard to acquire in the last century, and watching The True Cost makes it very clear what a slippery slope that is...You owe it to yourself to watch it, especially if you have a fast-fashion habit. Your bank account and the environment will be grateful."
Abigail Lewis, Whole Life Times Magazine
"A holistic examination of the economic, environmental, and human costs of the clothing industry. We hear from voices of scholars and industry representatives that defend the current model, and a range of voices of critics, including workers fighting for better conditions to entrepreneurs trying to develop a sustainable model, and scholars who argue the entire system of 'free trade' and capitalism must be challenged. Educators and students will find this a valuable resource."
Stephanie Luce, Professor of Labor Studies, The City University of New York, Author, Labor Movements: Global Perspectives
"A compelling educational tool that makes a significant contribution in training the next generation of the fashion industry and fashion consumers. Through powerful storytelling the film opens up a complete picture of the industry, much of which has been hidden from view until now."
Dr. Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability, Parsons School of Design at The New School, Co-Author, Shaping Sustainable Fashion: Changing the Way We Make and Use Clothes
"The ugliness beneath the glamour is exposed by this vitally important documentary...It is to be hoped that it will be seen by many and the all-important word will get out about a vital matter we all literally carry on our backs every day."
David Noh, Film Journal International
"An important incitement to action for consumers, students, and employees of the fashion industry. I know of no other documentary that confronts the social, cultural, and environmental impacts of fast fashion so comprehensively or compellingly."
Brent Luvaas, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Drexel University, Author, Street Style: An Ethnography of Fashion Blogging, and DIY Style: Fashion, Music, and Global Digital Cultures
"Under the gentle, humane investigations of its director, Andrew Morgan, what emerges most strongly is a portrait of exploitation that ought to make us more nauseated than elated over those $20 jeans...The True Cost stirs and saddens."
Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
"The wearing of clothing is something we each participate in daily, hence the importance of understanding the 'True Cost' is paramount. This film should be a mandatory requirement for viewing in every college Apparel Merchandising and Design Program."
Dr. Connie Ulasewicz, Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising, San Francisco State University, Author, Sustainable Fashion: What's Next?
"The True Cost: A Fashion Documentary shows that there's a human price to pay for bargain shopping. Prepare to be shocked...This is the most moving documentary I've watched in a long time and I highly recommend it."
Katherine Martinko, Treehugger
"True Cost illuminates critical issues and informs us of the challenges the fashion industry and its consumers face today in a truly genuine way. The inimitable field work discovers the impact the fashion productions have on our environment. This thought-provoking film makes us contemplate the complex issues surrounding our current state of our consumption, both for the individual and for the future betterment of society."
Dr. Jay Yoo, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Baylor University
"It unravels the grim, gritty, global supply chain of fast fashion: a system that has injected the type of speed, disposability and price deflation that has directly led to the worst casualties in the industrial age."
Lucy Siegle, The Guardian
"This movie helps fashion professionals and customers better understand the true cost, both environmental and social, of apparel products. It demonstrates why we must take immediate action to move towards a sustainable development of fashion industry."
Dr. Huantian Cao, Professor and Co-Director of Sustainable Apparel Initiative, University of Delaware
"Morgan does the necessary work of a true muckraker, taking on one of the ubiquitous issues that we'd perhaps prefer to ignore - the kind that too often go untouched by major news organizations."
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
"Ambitious...There's lots of solid material here."
Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
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Languages: English SDH, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish (LA & EU), Hindi, Portuguese (BR & EU), Chinese (simplified & traditional), Korean, Arabic, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic.
Making The True Cost [8:58]
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Awards and Festivals
Cannes Film Festival
Audience Award, Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Best Young Adult Film, American Conservation Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Napa Valley Film Festival
San Francisco Green Festival
Melbourne Environmental Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Festival
Festival des Libertes
Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fest
Global Peace Film Festival
CNEX Film Festival
Sustainable Living Film Festival, Turkey
Project Native Environmental Film Festival
Feed Dog, Spain
Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, Australia
Festival Waldstock, Switzerland
Cinéma sous les étoiles, Quebec
RVA Film Festival
Flicks 4 Change Film Festival
Astra Film Festival (Romania)
Mostra Ecofalante de Cinema Ambiental (Brazil)
One World Film Fest Slovakia
Barcelona International Environmental Film Festival
One Earth Film Festival
Arcadia Film Festival
Climate Change/Global Warming
Labor and Work Issues
Marketing and Advertising
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... more Reviews
"This documentary makes it clear why cute little dresses for $9.95 really are a 'steal'...Eye-opening...It will change the way you shop."
Jennifer Merin, Women's eNews
Julie Kosin, Harpers Bazaar
"This film should be required viewing for anyone interested in the fashion industry - or anyone who wears clothes, really."
Eliza Brooke, Fashionista
"The True Cost has important things to say, and says them straightforwardly and convincingly."
Genevieve Koski, The Dissolve
"Helps bring America's obsession with material goods into perspective in quite a terrifying way...A great documentary."
"Teaching students how their clothing is made remains an important feminist endeavor...The film's educational value is squarely centered in its attention to the total cost exacted on humans and the planet by fashion and its expansive, interconnected analysis of how the fashion industry exploits people and the planet for profit."
Elizabeth Verklan, Films for the Feminist Classroom