The Documentary Exposing The Dark Reality Of Fast Fashion

by MR Magazine Staff

The fast fashion industry has come under much scrutiny in recent years, with documentaries and journalistic exposés revealing the inhumane conditions suffered by factory workers worldwide at the hands of multi-million dollar clothing chains (not to mention the buyers turning a blind eye to the question of where their clothes come from). But while there’s certainly a greater awareness surrounding such issues, the fight for a more ethical approach to fashion is far from over – a point hammered home in Machines, a poignant new film from first-time director Rahul Jain. For his take on the subject, Jain ventures inside one vast textile mill in Gujarat, India, capturing its inner-workings in breathtakingly cinematic detail. For the first 13 minutes, there is no dialogue. Instead, sweeping camera work guides us dizzyingly around every nook and cranny of the labyrinthine space. The first thing you notice are the towering, grey machines, guzzling up brightly coloured fabrics like giant robots. Then you notice the men – and boys – no less mechanical in their precision and skill as they mix dyes, stoke furnaces and prime material. When they’re not working, the labourers steal a moment’s rest – sleeping on bundles of white fabric, or stopping to chew tobacco to give themselves a lift. No music accompanies the footage, just the rhythmic whirring and ticking of machinery. When a small boy drifts in and out of slumber while straightening out cloth as it filters through his designated machine, the effect is almost contagious. Indeed, what makes the film so effective is the way in which Jain plunges the viewer into the workers’ world, never forcing drama or action, instead patiently documenting the exhausting monotony of their task. When there is dialogue, we hear from the workers themselves – and at one point from their fat-cat boss, who matter-of-factly tells the camera that he shouldn’t pay them so well as they’re much more dedicated to the business when their bellies are empty. By “so well”, we discover, he means three US dollars per 12-hour shift and most of the workers take just one hour’s break between shifts, such are the financial pressures of providing for their families. The men discuss the need for unionisation and strike action, as well as the dead-end any attempt at this inevitably leads to – “the bosses just ask who the leader is, and then kills them,” we are told. Read more at Dazed.