Rachel Roy is spreading the message of compassionate consumerism, one film screening at a time. Roy has partnered with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and film director Derek Doneen in support of the film “The Price of Free,” which won the grand jury prize for best documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film tells the story of Satyarthi’s struggle to liberate children from slavery.
“I’ve been to India several times, but I went two years ago with my daughter and we spent time with children that had been rescued from trafficking, and we were really appalled and heartbroken at the amount of children that it affects,” Roy says. “We don’t realize that when we think our factories are safe and compliant, that sometimes that product is then taken out of the factory and put into a subcontractor and the subcontractors can hire children. It’s overwhelming and it’s frustrating to know how to solve the problem – but I couldn’t not do anything.”
Roy saw the film “The Price of Free” a few months ago and afterwards worked to track down Satyarthi to brainstorm different ways the fashion community could get involved. “Because most of us do think that we are using safe factories,” she says.
To introduce the film to more fashion types, she organized a screening in New York on Thursday evening, with the help of her brother, who is the film curator at MoMA (where the screening was held), Andrew Saffir of the Cinema Society and Derek Blasberg’s little black book of contacts.
In addition to hosting the screening, Roy is in the early stages of developing a labeling system for clothing, similar to the organic qualification process food items go through.
“You know how when you go to Whole Foods and you decide on whether you want a banana based on if it’s organic or not organic? I’m trying to develop a system for which there is a universal symbol for child-free factories,” Roy says. “And when I communicate with my customers, whether it’s in person or through a web site, all of them always say if they were given a choice they would always pick compassionate consumerism, even if it meant that it was a little bit more.”
The process is in its early stages, and at the moment remains “very frustrating,” Roy says. “I’m hearing a lot more no’s than yeses. Legally everyone is scared to get on board because you think you have a good factory and then they outsource illegally. And no one wants that headline on WWD, quite frankly! But that can’t stop me. And of course I wouldn’t want that type of headline, but I would rather try for a label and make mistakes along the way then not try at all.”
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