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Saint Mary’s to screen documentary on fast fashion industry

| Monday, January 27, 2020

In a society that values instant gratification, the fast fashion industry thrives. Fast fashion refers to clothing designs that move quickly from runaways to stores in order to keep up with current trends; as a result, these garments are often cheaply made and require unethically sourced labor.

The Saint Mary’s justice studies and theatre programs are hosting a collaborative screening of “The True Cost,” a 2015 documentary that explores the fast fashion industry across the world Monday in Vander Vennet Theatre at 3 p.m.

The film powerfully depicts the social and environmental costs of fast fashion, an industry that has grown rapidly in recent years, assistant professor Andrew Pierce said in an email.

“It is crucially important for western consumers to understand the human costs of the products we purchase, which are often produced under dangerous conditions, for shockingly low wages, in places like Bangladesh, India and China,” Pierce said.

The film provides a rare glimpse into these conditions and into the lives of the workers who produce our clothing, he said.

The issues the documentary covers overlap with problems that both assistant professor Melissa Bialko and Pierce are addressing in their respective courses in “Fashion Ethics” and “Global Justice,” Pierce said.

Senior Anne Nowalk, who’s interested in sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry, decided to take Fashion Ethics to learn more.

“It seemed like a really interesting class and opportunity to learn more about how to be more sustainable in what I wear and how to be mindful of the clothes I buy,” Nowalk said. “I have been interested in ethics surrounding sweatshops and worker pay in the [fashion] industry for a while now, so I was eager to explore that more.”

Having watched the documentary previously, Nowalk believes the film shows a different perspective on the fashion industry that is not seen very often, she said.

“I think watching a film is more effective in learning about fast fashion than reading a case study or an article because of the use of images and the familiarity of brands,” Nowalk said. “By watching the documentary, we’re able to understand why the fashion industry needs some changes.”

Nowalk hopes to gain more knowledge after rewatching the documentary.

“It’s been about two years since I’ve seen the documentary, so I’m hoping to look out for more information that I may have missed the first time I saw it. Then try to apply it to my own life and the context of the class to see what I personally can do better, but also looking beyond the surface level of the film and examining the deeper aspects,” Nowalk said.

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About Mia Marroquin

Mia Marroquin is a rising senior Communication Studies major at Saint Mary’s. Currently serving as Saint Mary’s News Editor, she hails from Holland, Michigan and is an 80’s movie fanatic. Follow Mia on Twitter @_miamarroquin

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