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Monday, September 14, 2015

Strategic CSR - Fashion

The article in the url below reviews a documentary that was released earlier this year, The True Cost:
"The True Cost, a documentary examining the environmental, social and even the psychological impact of our rapid consumption of fashion, opens today in Los Angeles, New York and London, as well as on iTunes and video on-demand services. The film represents [the director, Andrew] Morgan's own journey of discovery as he documented fashion's globalized supply chain—whether it is discussing pesticide usage on a Texas cotton farm, meeting women in Bangladesh who are struggling to create a better way of life for their children, or examining a fair-trade brand's process in Japan."
Of the clips I have seen, The True Cost raises some important questions about the values on which we live our lives and structure our society (see also Strategic CSR – Fast fashion). The struggle I have is with the bigger picture. 150 years ago, the working conditions we see today in much of the developing world were commonplace in the industrializing world (i.e., the UK, Europe, and the US). In fact, I wonder how many critics of these working conditions realize that it was only in 1938 that child labor was prohibited in the U.S. with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
As such, I wonder to what extent these conditions are a necessary stage that economies need to progress through in order to reach a more "developed state." Critics say essentially that, because we know better today, those economies should be able to skip those states (and it is incumbent upon us to help them do that). While developing countries will undoubtedly take less time to reach comparable living standards to the developed world today, I doubt that it is as simple as just willing ourselves there. The ineffectiveness of much overseas aid indicates the challenges faced in building modern institutions rapidly in underdeveloped societies. As such, if those countries take a further 50 years to evolve beyond today's standard-of-living, that will be an amazing achievement in a relatively short period of time, but that is a difficult argument to convey to those who demand miracles today.
The trailer for the documentary can be seen on its website:
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Fashion Documentary Exposes Environmental and Human Costs of Those $8 Jeans
By Robin Kawakami
May 29, 2015
The Wall Street Journal