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    Journal — fashion

    Must Watch Fashion Documentaries

    Must Watch Fashion Documentaries

    Unfortunately, the world of fashion is riddled with many issues, from underpaid labour, to unsafe working conditions, to environmental destruction. Modern fashion supply chains span right across the globe, making it impossible for us to fathom the chaos. However, we need to keep in mind that it isn't fashion itself that is bad. It is only a small number of greedy individuals who have hijacked an industry that has the potential to bring happiness and joy from the farmer to the customer.

    So these documentaries in our opinion are several of the best out there to educate and inspire us to change the way the industry operates. We hope you will be inspired by watching these movies as either a student, a designer, a producer, a retailer or a consumer to take action.

    The True Cost

    The True Cost is one of the most compelling documentaries produced about the fashion industry. The film covers a wide range of issues the industry is grappling with. But the most defining factor about this film is that it goes beyond the fashion supply chain and calls out the root causes behind this destruction - materialism and capitalism. However, not all hope is lost. Through this movie you will get to know the people making a difference in the sector.


    Water sustains life on earth. Governments and scientists are spending billions of dollars looking for water in other planets. But we have the very resource here on earth, albeit being destroyed by our irresponsible business and consumption behaviour. RiverBlue with graphical evidence proves why the fashion industry is known to be the second most polluting industry after oil and gas. 

    Bitter Seeds

    You might wonder what a documentary about an agricultural crop has to do with fashion. Cotton is the single largest raw material used in clothing. It is also one of the most destructive crops, consuming the most amount of water, pesticides and insecticides of any agricultural crop. Also, it is probably the only crop that claims the lives of the farmers who grow them. Thanks to companies such as Monsanto which have trapped the Indian cotton farmer in a viscous cycle of debt and deceit, tens of thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide.

    The Next Black

    This documentary presents to its viewers the changes taking place in the fashion industry highlighting key trends emerging that will reshape the sector. Presented in 6 chapters - from wearable tech to cultured bio fabrics to mending damaged clothes - this documentary open us to the multitude of possibilities out there to change the way the industry is run today. 

    Alexa Chung Uncovers Fashion Industry Secrets

    It's not all doom and gloom in the fashion industry. Fashion has the power to bring happiness to those who make clothes as much as for those who wear it. The industry needs a new generation to revolutionise the way it operates. Alexa Chung presents in a two part series the many wheels that turn behind the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry. A very engaging series it will give anyone considering an entry into the world of fashion a taste of its demands and rewards. If you should decide to enter the world of fashion, keep in mind to make it a fair and equitable one from farmer to consumer and our environment.

    Special mention....

    Goes to Remake, a social enterprise igniting a conscious consumer movement to turn fashion into a force for good. Their original documentary footage brings you face to face with the women who make our clothes. They share facts and stories to help you break up with fast fashion and provide seasonal curated collections to remake your closet with fashion that respects women and our planet. 

    Artisan Profiles: Mrs W G Sumanawathi

    Artisan Profiles: Mrs W G Sumanawathi

    In our second traditional artisan profile we are writing about Mrs W G Sumanawathi.

    Born in December 1956, Mrs Sumanawathi was brought up in the village of Yatawatta in the Matale District. Her mother was originally from the village of Henavala before moving to Yatawatta after marriage. Also, her father staked close ties to the village of Henavala through his mother, who like his wife moved to the village of Yatawatta after marriage. Being born into a family of expert weavers and it came as no surprise when Mrs Sumanawathi developed a keen interest in the craft from a young age.

    Mrs Sumanawathi (right) having a chat with Vikum.

    Scraping Hana leaves to extract fibre.

    Mrs Sumanawathi attended the Matale Weera Parakrama Central College for her formal education. As was the case with many children in rural Sri Lanka during the middle part of the 20th century, she dropped out of school at the young age of 11 years.

    She apprenticed under her parents learning the basic techniques of weaving the Hana mat. She assisted her parents with harvesting Hana leaves, extracting fibre and preparing the dyed fibre for weaving. With time she became increasingly proficient in the hand weaving technique mastering complex designs. This led to her participation in the “Guru Shilpee” (translated as “master artisan”) programme conducted by the National Crafts Council.

    After her marriage to Mr Rupathilake, a highly skilled Hana mat weaver from the village of Henavala, Mrs Sumanawathi moved to Henavala. She is a mother of two children. Weaving Hana mats at home allowed her to secure an income while tending to her family. After the Government run crafts boutique, Laksala, was set up in 1982 she started to produce finished goods such as bags, wallets and purses to sell at Laksala.

    Mrs Sumanawathi with her husband, Mr Rupathilake (right)

    Showing us some of her finished product samples which she no longer makes.

    However, with cheaper imports of higher quality arriving in the local market during the early 1990s both price pressure and lack of demand took its toll on her work. Laksala was unable to pay a price which compensated adequately for her work and payments were being delayed causing her to run into debt. Eventually, she stopped producing finished goods and concentrated on producing more Hana mats.

    Today, she works closely with us at Kantala and produces much of the mats used in Kantala handbags. She is an industrious lady with a beaming smile. We often pay her a visit when we are at the village and she always makes sure we leave after having a cup of tea. She is keen to see the development of the Hana mat weaving craft and see a new generation take up the craft. She hopes Kantala’s efforts to popularise the craft with a global community will shine a new light on her beloved industry.

    Girl power: the women behind the weave. Mrs. Sumanawathi (right) with her fellow artisans.

    A message from Mrs Sumanawathi for the Fashion Revolution Week 2017 campaign.