top 5 documentaries on sustainable fashion

By Olivia Kellett


It surprises many to learn that fashion is the second most polluting industry next to oil. From workers rights to water pollution, these five documentaries are recommended by REAL, as ones to watch on the topic of sustainable fashion.

True Cost

The True Cost gives a comprehensive view of the environmental and human cost the fast fashion industry has created on a global scale. This extensive documentary covers issues from the unethical exploitation of garment workers to the destruction of rivers and lakes and mass pollution from cheap clothing. This film is a must see for both fashion professionals and anyone who buys and wears clothing.

River Blue

River Blue is a hard hitting documentary which stresses the importance of water as the source of human survival. It follows international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, who travels the globe to infiltrate one of the worlds most pollutive industries, fashion. It is estimated that fashion brands use 28 trillion gallons of fresh water every year. This is gobbling up dwindling supplies of fresh water and threatening our future on this planet. This groundbreaking documentary brings awareness of the destruction being caused to natural habitats, the irresponsible dumping of toxic chemicals and the human cost of producing fast-fashion clothing.


Although women make up 80% of garment factory workforces, they continue to experience discrimination and mistreatment on a daily basis. From lower than average wages to workplace harassment and poor working conditions, Udita follows the lives of female Bangladeshi garment workers as they organize themselves into a union and fight for their rights. Filmed over the course of half a decade, this documentary highlights the immense struggles these women have faced. The union highlighted, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), has been a partner of War on Want for many years.


A more positive film than some of the others on our list,  Unravel is a short documentary following the journey of the western world’s least wanted clothes across northern India to Panipat, the only place that wants them. Here they are recycled back into reusable yarn. With only 1% of textiles currently being recycled worldwide, Unravel delivers a more positive and uplifting message, whilst quietly questioning how western culture values material goods.

The Next Black

The Next Black is another positive and uplifting documentary. It profiles some of the biggest issues facing the fashion industry and focuses on the innovative designers and companies coming up with solutions to issues such as sustainable and ethical clothes.