It is difficult to imagine a more globally successful, widely adopted garment than the blue jean. The denim pant that used to be the iconic signifier of the American West has now become a stalwart in most wardrobes around the world. Blue jeans are worn by cowboys, members of parliament, supermodels and school teachers.
Delving into what goes down in the manufacturing processes of this wildly successful clothing item, renowned conservationist Mark Angelo lifts the lid on the unscrupulous impact of the fashion industry in the documentary film RiverBlue.
Released in 2016, RiverBlue follows Angelo as he visits remote factory sites of major fashion suppliers, far-removed from the gloss of branded department stores. The team behind the film aim to raise awareness about the effect that these factories have on natural rivers. Typically based in already impoverished regions, these factories release industrial quantities of harmful fabric dyes into the water on which local communities rely for their own sustenance.
Directed by David McIlvride and Roger Williams, RiverBlue highlights the numerous problems that arise from this kind of pollution. By pumping hazardous chemical compounds (that are designed to give our jeans their permanent blue-sky hue) into natural rivers, aquatic life is demolished almost instantly. Moreover, the surrounding human populations lose access to drinkable water. Long term damage to the senses is sustained by those living in close proximity to these factory outlets, as the chemical sharpness dulls the inhabitants’ sense of smell.
The documentary project was filmed on almost every continent, highlighting the far-flung points of pollution in the name of consumerist fashion in North America, central Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China and Australasia.