Exploring the environmental damage caused by fast fashion
MerchantCantos, Executive Producer, Joanna Bowers documentary titled; ‘reFashioned’ explores the environmental damage caused by fast fashion. Marketing Manager, Charlotte McIntosh, caught up with Joanna Bowers to chat about the project ahead of its theatrical release on the 18th of September, as part of the Life Is Art Film Festival in Hong Kong:
CM: ‘reFashioned’ examines the environmental damage caused by fast fashion, how did this project come about?
JB: The genesis of this project was quite unusual! I was approached by Whittier College in Southern California, Edwin Keh (one of the heroes of “reFashioned”) was one of their alumni and they were really proud of the innovative work he was doing on recycling textile blends in Hong Kong. They knew about me as a Hong Kong filmmaker because of my last film “The Helper” and wanted to see if I might be interested in telling his story. Edwin is a passionate, dynamic character that I immediately knew he would translate on film, but in order to tell a more balanced story, I expanded the scope to include two other disrupters – Sarah Garner of Retykle and Eric Swinton of Vcycle who brought very different perspectives to tell Hong Kong’s sustainable fashion and textile waste story.
CM: Why was this such an important project for you?
JB: We’re currently witnessing the devastating effects of climate change around the planet – and the fashion industry plays such a monumental part in that. Our generation grew up voraciously consuming fast fashion with no knowledge or awareness of the impact it was having on the environment – and now we’ve all finally woken up to those consequences. People want to make better choices nowadays, and I’m really optimistic that the ideas and information shared in “reFashioned” will inspire action and ultimately an impactful change in how we choose, use and dispose of clothing.
CM: Where did you get your inspiration from?
JB: I was very lucky that my last film’s impact really brought me into a network of very dynamic changemakers both within Hong Kong and beyond. Whilst the last film was about migrant women, many of the connections I made were individuals working in the sustainability sector, and learning about the impressive innovations people were pursuing was incredibly inspiring! When the opportunity to explore sustainable fashion in a new film came up, I leaned on that network who made a myriad of fascinating introductions until we found Sarah and Eric and I knew their unique stories were the right ones to round out the films scope.
CM: What was the most surprising thing you learned while filming?
JB: Filming at the WENT landfill in Hong Kong was a day my entire crew and I will never forget – the experience is forever etched in my memory and the smell in my nostrils! The sheer scale of the place (Just 1 of 4 landfills in Hong Kong) was astounding and devastating. We had to send our drone 2.5km out to see in order to get a wide enough shot to show the whole landfill! Every time I put something in the rubbish bin now I picture it ending up in that landfill – and it makes me stop and think if there is an alternative.
The film will be premiering at DMZ International Documentary Film Festival in South Korea on the 10th of September.
To watch the trailer of ‘reFashioned’ click here.