Think of The True Cost as the auteur equivalent of the glitter bomb. Set to launch simultaneously across multiple platforms on May 29, the Kickstarter-funded documentary is a bold and unflinching assault on the fashion industry’s status quo. Its sobering linchpin? The building collapse at Rana Plaza, a disaster that killed 1,138 garment workers and injured thousands more in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013. Littered with bodies, the rubble became a symbol for the global inequities behind our cheap clothing. For filmmaker Andrew Morgan, it was a call to action. The backlash had begun.

BEHIND THE SEAMS

“Growing up in America, I never gave much thought to where my clothes came from,” Morgan says. “But as I began learning more about the people and places behind the labels in my closet, I was shocked by what I found.”

Clothing, he notes, is the most labor-dependent industry in the world, employing millions of the world’s poorest workers, many of whom are women.

“Many of these women are paid less than a living wage, work in unsafe conditions, and are deprived of basic human rights,” Morgan says.

Then there’s the industry’s Godzilla-sized environmental footprint. “In addition to the human impact, fashion is now the number two most polluting industry on Earth—second only to oil,” he adds.

RELATED | Q&A With “The True Cost” Director Andrew Morgan

Seeking answers, Morgan took a film crew around the world, from “the brightest runways to the darkest slums.” He interviewed some of the fashion’s leading influencers and change-makers, including the Green Carpet Challenge’s Livia Firth, who doubled as an executive producer of the film; vegan designer Stella McCartney; “materialism expert” Tim Kasser; and Worker Rights Consortium director Scott Nova.

What he found was a situation that had become wholly untenable: a “race to the bottom” characterized by environmental injustice and a callous disregard for the most basic of human rights.

Still, The True Cost is more than an indictment of a broken system. It also offers alternative solutions and with them, a vision of a better future.

“The eyes of the world are opening, and I believe history is giving us this moment to choose a better path,” Morgan says. “Human progress moves forward when those who have a voice use it on behalf of those who do not. It moves forward when a moment is seized rather than ignored. And it most certainly moves when we decide that the profit of some must never come from the exploitation of others. I hope with all my heart that this film serves as a needed step in that progress.”

Visit the The True Cost website to preorder the movie on DVD/Blu-ray or digital copy for $9.99. Or search for a screening at a movie theater near you.

+ The True Cost