The way we make, sell and consume clothes today is unsustainable. Once synonymous with glamour and fun, fashion now conjures landfill and garment worker horror stories. High fashion is exclusive and steeped in privilege, while fast fashion ends up in the trash, exploiting people and the planet along the way.
Yet until recently the industry seemed all-powerful. Brands made billions out of it. Consumers couldn’t get enough. Behind the scenes, though, the pressure was building. 2020’s upheavals revealed that the cracks in the system went deeper than anyone had imagined. This documentary shows how the old order fell from grace, just as activists, designers, innovators and community voices were stepping up to reimagine it. Told through the eyes of trailblazing women across the globe, who each share their unique sustainability stories, Dear Fashion reveals the workings of the unethical old system, presents powerful ideas for a new one - and invites us all to be part of the change.
BEHIND THE SCENES
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
The fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters, and it pays millions of women poverty wages. People are worried about injustice, overconsumption and disconnection and the $3 trillion global fashion industry has become a poster child for all three. But it can also offer an accessible way to explore these big issues.
Because of its huge reach and universality - we all wear clothes - an unsustainable, unethical fashion industry holds up a mirror to a broader culture that’s in dire need of a rethink. We recognise fashion as political, and part of an outmoded, hierarchical system built on exploitation. It exceeds planetary boundaries and props up racism, oppression and patriarchy. It also perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards and makes many feel negatively about themselves. And yet fashion still has the power to delight, connect, transport and empower. So we ask, wear next? What should we jettison and what should we keep? How can fashion be part of a regenerative future?
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
Fashion needs to change but we’re taking it a step further: and changing the world through fashion. In calling out the disastrous impacts of current industry practices the goal is to change consumer and business behaviour in practical ways, and to push for better systems, ideologies and sustainable futures. We are targeting exploitation, unfair employment practices, overconsumption and pollution. We want to support systemic change, circular economies and a deeper connection to people and planet.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
Most people still have no idea what an environmental hazard fashion poses and know little about who makes their clothes. It all starts with education. We aim to cut through the complexity and the greenwashing, and get people to care. Dear Fashion will bring clarity, transparency and mainstream awareness - and back it up with practical solutions for change.
We hope to create awareness that everyone can make a difference because all our wardrobes are part of in the fashion supply chain. What we buy, how it’s made and how it’s represented matters. Consumers have real power to vote with their wallets, but they need to understand the issues first. We’re dreaming big and challenging the fashion system to slow down, stop overproducing and rethink wasteful practices. We’d like to influence the policy agenda around the circular textiles economy in particular. Regulation is important. If we start demanding better practices, more transparency and accountability, we will see a real shift.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
Firstly, we will amplify voices of the marginalised groups. These include garment workers and those living with environmental pollution, who suffer the consequences of fast fashion’s exploitative business model. They also include BIPOC voices ignored by fashion media and business elites. We will support the change-makers in their endeavours, to collectively build power and reach. Secondly, education - audiences will come away from screenings feeling enlightened and empowered to take pro-sustainable fashion action in their own lives. Knowledge sharing through education outputs is key. We will create additional materials - tool kits, mixed media online course, worksheets and packs for young people - based on the key themes of the documentary. Event screenings will be key, as will multi-media online engagement through existing platforms, and one established specifically for the documentary. Clare’s podcast will be used as a marketing tool.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Writer Clare Press has existing relationships with NGOs, advocacy groups and charities including: Fashion Revolution, Extinction Rebellion, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UN Ethical Fashion Initiative, UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, Clean Clothes Campaign, Global Fashion Agenda, Fashion Roundtable (UK), Fashion For Good (Netherlands), Free as a Human (Kenya), ReMake and #Payup, leading fashion schools globally and fashion councils (including the British and Australian fashion councils, the CFDA and the Africa Fashion Foundation). We are centring those left behind by the current fashion system. Many of these organisations and the people behind them directly contribute to Dear Fashion’s storylines. Episodes are based on: Crisis, Trash, Oppression, Rebellion, Connection and Regeneration.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
Dear Fashion as a rallying point for the sustainable fashion movement, cross-promoted by our network and positioned as a sustainability knowledge sharing hub. We'll be creating assets for educators and individuals as well as community events around the sustainability pillars raised in the documentary.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
Primary indicators of success would be viewership, number of event screenings, presentations, educational workshops and downloading toolkits at the school, community, corporate, investor and government sector level. Additional indicators include sign-ups to mailing lists, social media accounts and campaigns that further the message. Funds raised to support the documentary, but also the wider impact campaign and regenerative solutions are a key indicator. Media coverage is key in creating awareness and adding to the transparency and accountability of major brands. Behaviour change will likely be demonstrated through key influencers on social media and hopefully, through seeing the desired slowing down of the fashion cycle by consumers, the fashion brands, fashion shows and magazines that have in the past promoted the fast fashion cycle.