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Rachel M. ‘17 — Film "Undressed"

The Project: Rachel’s documentary film, Undressed, focuses on the impact of the “fast fashion” industry (retail stores that sell cheap clothing) on human rights and the environment. In addition to her film, she also had an article published in Huffpost Teen“The Feminism of Fashion,” on April 18, 2016.

Area of Inquiry: “I started wondering how the stores I loved so much could sell clothing at insanely cheap prices. I’d never thought about where and how the clothing was made until I read a book by Tansy Hoskins (Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion) a year ago.”

Process: In addition to reading Tansy Hoskins’s book and skyping the author for
an interview (she lives in London), Rachel read Elizabeth Cline’s book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, and then spoke to the author in person during a protest in front of a downtown H&M store! She also interviewed classmates as well as industry experts and activists. Finally, Rachel looked at “fashion haulers” on YouTube to research the promotion of conspicuous consumption. While she had some experience using iMovie to make quick videos, this was Rachel’s first attempt at video journalism and editing a long narrative film.

What I Learned: “Fast fashion means ‘disposability’ of clothing and humans,” says Rachel, who notes that slave labor has been shipped overseas, where children and women are working in unsafe conditions. Plus, there's the environmental impact: “The average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing each year; 80 percent of the clothing donated to thrift stores ends up in the landfill.”

What’s Next: Rachel stopped shopping at fast fashion stores a year ago. Now, she’s finishing up her film, and hopes to continue the conversation next year in the Upper School.

Value of JW: “Junior Workshop was an amazing experience for me because it gave me a chance to really explore a topic I am passionate about. My challenge was to try to shed light on a topic that I don’t feel is discussed, and to create a piece of work that would start conversations. I have now created something that I am really proud of.”