In 2020, we’re beginning to face the issue of fast fashion head-on — The media can no longer shy away from one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis and worker exploitation. The newly released film Greed, starring celebrated British actor Steve Coogan, proves that we are willing to talk about, and tackle, the throw-away culture we have found ourselves in.
In this lavish depiction of excess, grandeur, and, well, greed, Coogan plays a fashion mogul based loosely on Philip Green, the Chairman of Arcadia Group (home to the likes of Topshop, Topman, Burton, and Miss Selfridge). In a comedic and outrageous display of wealth, Coogan’s character, Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie, attempts to scramble out of the depths of social humiliation and financial turmoil by throwing an extravagant 60th birthday party on the Greek island of Mykonos. In true Coogan fashion, the film is exaggerated, allegorical, and witty. Much like its central character, it holds nothing back. Lions, Coldplay concerts, freshly built amphitheatres, yacht parties, and celebrity cameos — satirised wealth drips from every element of the motion picture.
Directed by Michael Winterbottom, Greed tackles themes of tax evasion, worker exploitation, and the earth-shattering realities of pure excess. It may be a light-hearted depiction, but in the grand tradition of British dark comedies, this film also leaves us with something to think about — are our actions contributing to the devastating world of fast fashion?
In 2008, the worldwide fast fashion market was worth $21 billion USD. It has since crept up to an incredible 35 billion in 2018 and is forecasted to be worth 44 billion by 2028. Contradictory to this increase, we are also seeing a surge in awareness, as more people become concerned about the environmental issues and the human rights breaches caused by the fast fashion industry.
In addition to this, last year saw GLAMOUR encourage readers to take on the ‘30 wears challenge’, after the release of concerning statistics that the average item in the UK only is only worn 14 times before being discarded. These fast fashion garments usually end up on a landfill or in incinerators within years of being made. Consumers and fashion houses alike are waking up to the devastation fast fashion can cause and are making a stand against its unethical practices.
In response to this, we are now seeing more and more clothing brands switch their attention to focus on quality rather than quantity. Ethical design is the solution that the fashion world is striving towards. From catwalk collections to corporate uniforms, ethically-minded fashion is thriving and clothing is being built to last again.
Thanks to big publicity pushes from GLAMOUR and films like Greed, we are gradually waking up to the realities of fast fashion and the damage it can do. As well as depicting McCreadie’s bodacious escapes and eccentric parties, Greed offers audiences an insight into the flipside of the coin. At one point, the film merges into a montage showing satirising versions of garish clothing stores that have put smaller brands out of business over the years. As well as this, scenes filmed in Sri Lanka attempt to illustrate the exploitation of factory workers, shocking the audience into sudden realisations.
Originally, Michael Winterbottom wanted to take this shock factor even further, ending the film with a documentary-style slideshow, calling out specific brands and leaving the audience with shocking statistics that prove that “real life is yet more grotesque than fiction”. Although this potential ending never made it to the big screen, Greed still allows audiences to reflect on reality, in-between moments of hilarity, questioning their own shopping habits after being exposed to a fictionalised account of what goes on at either end of the scale in the turbulent world of fast fashion.
This article was written and provided by Jermyn Street Design, providers of bespoke uniforms.
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