Stacey Dooley Has Let Us In On Fashion’s Dirty Secrets

Words: Holly Margerrison
Feature Image: @sjdooley

Gone are the days of capsule wardrobes, investing in long-lasting products and prioritising quality over quantity. Instead, out of the surfeit of clothes rails and the plethora of webpages evolves a phenomenon known as fast fashion.

Society’s desire to consume the latest trends at the click of a button or the tap of a card allows us to shop financially guilt-free. But if these brands are reeling off two or three collections a week, what is the environmental impact? How durable are the clothes? And how many days do we leave it before we’re back surfing the web for this week’s must haves?

In her documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, journalist Stacey Dooley begins to hack away at these questions that have been neglected for too long.

During her visits to Central Asia, Dooley uncovers the shocking impacts of cotton plantations. Not only does cotton production use more water than any other product, but the pesticides and fertilisers involved in the process damage the soil. Perhaps the most poignant part of the program was seeing how camels now reside on the barren seabed that was once home to sea creatures.

Even more outrageously, overseas factories bypass regulations put in place to stop water contamination.

Dooley discovers pipes that run from the factories to the rivers – in which chemicals including lead, mercury and arsenic are disposed of.

As the locals use this water to wash in and prepare food, they become exposed to long-term health effects such as skin problems and a lowered IQ in children.

Back in the UK, the journalist attempts to get in contact with big high street brands regarding their regulations. At Copenhagen fashion summit – an event to raise awareness about sustainability – it is surprising how many companies refuse to talk to the camera crew.

Although Stacey managed to convince influencers such as Niomi Smart to consider the impact of ‘clothing hauls’ on the environment, it’s going to take a collective change in attitudes towards fast fashion to buy back borrowed time.

Dooley has a point – fast fashion lures us into buying more than we actually need. And is there anything less cool than being lulled into a false sense of security – in a financial, ethical or sustainable sense?

You can catch Dooley’s documentary now on BBC iPlayer.