Fashion Revolution Week

Claudio Montesano Casillas- The Documentarian

April 30, 2018

Photo Courtesy- Claudio Montesano Casillas

Claudio Montesano Casillas is a director and producer for Beyond the Label, a documentary in the works that is aiming to provide solutions to the global problem of fast fashion and overseas clothing manufacturing.

Beyond the Label started as a Kickstarter campaign, with Casillas aiming to raise money in order to fund the documentary and its associated costs to produce. By the time the campaign closed a month later, the Kickstarter goal was not reached, but according to Casillas, the reactions from the fashion community about the documentary’s concept were very positive.

“Even if we failed in a way to collect [the] money that we want, we still won in a way,” Casillas said.

Why did the documentary fail to raise enough money?

Casillas attributed one reason for the documentary’s loss in timing, as the campaign was launched during Christmas.

Another reason, according to Casillas, could be mentality, as the topic of sustainability is a luxury in today’s day and age.

“People are interested in the topic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will embrace it,” Casillas added, much like the mentality around clothes and their price versus value.

So, why another fashion documentary on sustainability?

“We believe nagging or illustrating the negative aspects of the industry is not enough,” Casillas said.

Beyond the Label aims to follow a fashion designer on their journey to provide entirely sustainable clothing and explore the solutions to the industry’s global problem.

“We believe the designer has much more responsibility, particularly with sustainability,” Casillas said. The perspective of following a designer on their journey toward sustainability also made for an interesting angle, he added.

Casillas said he believes there are solutions that could change fashion’s entire business model, but questions what would happen to the workers and the industry that so heavily rely on the current business model if it drastically changes.

With the industry being vital to the economies of the cities that the garment workers are in, Casillas said, “It’s very challenging. There are so many solutions, but you need to embrace the right solutions.”

One solution Casillas poses?

Don’t boycott brands, as Casillas said, “boycotting a brand is a short term solution.” Casillas added that the government collaborating with brands to raise awareness about the problem and its solutions would also be an important factor for affecting change in the industry.

Why is this important to Casillas?

As a photojournalist, Casillas photographed the garment industry in Bangladesh and Cambodia, witnessing firsthand the manufacturing process that happens overseas with fast fashion where garment workers work long hours for little pay and are assigned one small task that they do repeatedly, such as sewing a single seam on a garment.

On the day of the Rana Plaza building collapse, Casillas said he was studying photojournalism in London at the time. Discussing the impact that Rana Plaza had on the fashion industry, Casillas said, we “knew about the problem, but Rana Plaza hit us in the face that the way we were doing things is wrong.”

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