Italian activist Livia Firth, the real life wife of actor Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy!), has produced an important documentary, "The True Cost," that explores the enormous negative impact of the fashion industry on human beings and the environment, particularly in developing countries--the exploitation of (mainly female) employees and the degradation of the environment (chemicals used to treat fabric, pollution from factories, landfills full of discarded clothing).
Andrew Morgan directed the film which, film executive Harvey Weinstein predicted, is "going to shock the fashion world." Read Morgan's director's statement here. The movie just screened at Cannes and is receiving enthusiastic reviews. Designer and film producer Tom Ford is among its fans.
We are fortunate in Southern California that some fashion/apparel brands are exemplars of socially and environmentally responsible business practices. Patagonia, located in Ventura, is widely acclaimed as an industry leader. Apolis Global and Reformation, both in Los Angeles, are also committed to creating cool, high quality, and reasonably priced clothing in a way that is respectful of their laborers and the environment. Enrou, based in Santa Monica, is another impressive company that partners with socially responsible brands to curate rate and beautiful products, handcrafted by artisans in developing countries.
A reminder to think twice before buying the cute but cheap dress or shirt from a company that is known to exploit people and the environment. The "true cost" of the garment is much more than your bill.
P.S. Check out the profiles of Patagonia and Apolis Global on this website under "Businesses." The Reformation and Enrou profiles are forthcoming. And email us with any other fashion brands of which you are aware that are socially responsible.