By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Like many people, my eyes were first opened to the grim realities of fast fashion by the film The True Cost. But whereas The True Cost focused on the human misery behind the creation of high street fashion, another fashion film provides a constructive path forward.
Frontline Fashion is an engaging documentary that shows how both Prêt-à-Porter and Haute Couture designers can maintain their beauty through sustainable fashion. Narrated by Christina Dean, founder and CEO of Redress, the film gives audiences the chance to explore the wrongdoings of fashion, and to find atonement. The first statement she makes in the movie sets the tone: “We are encouraged to shop until we drop, but without considering the consequences.” However along the way, she highlights how NGOs such as hers, fundraising and corporate partnerships can all work together to help reduce waste in the fashion industry.
Each year, Dean’s charity, Redress, holds a sustainable fashion design competition inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste, and Frontline Fashion also follows ten fledgeling designers being educated about the fashion industry’s negative environmental impacts. The designers are provided with the tools to develop their understanding of sustainable fashion design.
Dean explains why it’s important to educate young designers: “The urgent need to drive creativity towards a more sustainable direction is obvious: we have an exploding fashion industry, a savaged environment and we have designers around the world training to join the world’s second most polluting industry without much sustainable design education under their belts. It’s not rocket science to understand that educating fashion designers is an act of environmental activism.”
The movie runs through the competition cycle and is packed with tension, joy and information, with designers from around the world competing for the first prize: the chance to design an upcycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. The jury is composed by the cream of the crop of conscious fashion, including Orsola de Castro (Founder of the Fashion Revolution), fashion blogger Susi Lau and Stephanie Zhuge, of Elle China, to name a few.
The film points out some shocking facts. For example, in Hong Kong, 293 tons of waste textiles are dumped daily into this city’s landfill. Also, fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil – and fashion contributes to oil’s dominance by using it to create unsustainable fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic.
To help reduce fashion’s carbon footprint, the designers are taught three main sustainable design techniques: zero waste design, upcycling and reconstruction. It’s amazing to see the creativity behind some of the garments that these up and coming designers dream up in the film, and it’s even more wonderful to know that the winner will be pushing for change in the world of fashion.
There is often the misbelief that eco-fashion is for the few who can afford it, but Christina Dean reminds us that this is not the case: “Sustainable fashion comes in many shapes and sizes, everyone can partake in a more sustainable fashion industry simply through more thoughtful consumption of better-made clothes that are worn and loved for longer before being disposed of ways that keep the clothes out of landfill.”
Redress’ very first feature-length documentary demonstrates how there is no need to compromise style by becoming more conscious consumers.
Frontline Fashion is now available to watch on iTunes.