On DigitalReviews

Fashion Reimagined  (12A) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Becky Hutner, UK, 2022, 100 mins

Cast:  Amy Powney, Chloe Marks

Review by Carol Allen

Rising young fashion designer Amy Powney is on a mission – an unusual one for the fashion industry which, we learn from director Becky Hutner’s informative and thought provoking documentary, is the fourth largest contributor to climate change in Europe after food, housing and transportation.

 But Amy wants to persuade us to end our wasteful ways – three out of five garments we buy go to landfill within one year of purchase – and she’s starting by setting a good example with her own high end fashion house Mother of Pearl, as she searches the world for organic and natural materials, putting social responsibility, respect to animals and low-environmental impact first in the creation of her latest collection.  It’s a fascinating journey in itself taking us round the world in search of exotically patterned natural fabrics in Turkey to a glorious sheep farm in Uraguay, where animal welfare Is prime. Because we’re not just talking natural fibres but also social responsibility, animal welfare and low-environmental impact.

While following Amy’s search Hutner also throws in some often horrifying statistics. Like the huge number of children employed in making cheap clothes, which is linked to starvation wages.  In just four days a major fashion CEO will earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in their entire lifetime.  Environmental horror stories include the fact that that it takes 1500 litres of water to make one pair of denim jeans – that’s one person’s drinking water for two years.  While getting the fashionable “worn in” look for that same item involves the use of killer carcinogenic chemicals, which harm the health of those working on the product. 

Amy’s background includes a childhood in the North living with her unmaterialistic family in a caravan – the sort of upbringing where now old-fashioned habits, such as sewing on replacement buttons and repairing tears and drooping hems might well have been be the norm.   Whether today’s consumer could be persuaded to abandon cheap “wear once and chuck on the dump” fashion and convert back to the thrift and make do and mend attitudes of older generations is at the moment though doubtful.   Amy and Becky admit the chances of big chains like Primark and Next putting sustainability before profits are slim, indeed anorexic. 

But by starting with high end fashion, which is not cheap and where Amy is beginning to get her message across and perhaps with the support of big names like actress Cate Blanchett, who set an example recently by wearing a frock to an awards do that she had actually worn before – shock horror – maybe we will all start to make more sustainable fashion choices.   After all, every journey starts with one small step

 Fashion Reimagined is in cinemas 3rd March and available on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW from 9th April.