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If You Don’t Watch The True Cost, Read This – A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

By October 24, 2017 Ethical

I’ve covered quite a few books on my blog over the past year or two, all of them being related to ethical fashion on varying levels, however, I’ve never read or reviewed a fictional book until I discovered A Harvest of Thorns and realised that fiction could be another way to help people understand and come to terms with fast-fashion. (Please be aware that this book and my review covers topics such as rape and may give away mild spoilers.)

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review


A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison


Although I had the idea that the book covered the tale of a single garment worker, A Harvest of Thorns actually covers the tale of not only garment workers, but a journalist and the general counsel of the fictional retailer, ‘Presto‘ (you could compare it to the likes of Amazon).

Based on what the author Corban Addison discovered and experienced himself after the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in 2012, the story covers a similar tale and how it affects a major corporation, consumers and the future of the fashion industry.

It’s film-like, in the way the book is written; it’s descriptive and immersive and allows you to understand all of the different perspectives that you’re reading, whether that be from the perspective of a garment worker who is forced to work without pay; Joshua Griswold – the journalist battling with his struggling relationship, his cancer-ridden daughter and his career – or Cameron Alexander; the general counsel (chief lawyer) who recently lost his wife in a tragic car accident and is facing the possibility of his mother’s death.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

As you can probably tell, this isn’t an uplifting story but it isn’t supposed to be. Although all of the stories and characters are fictional, it all comes from reality – these stories and characters exist, whether we want them to or not.

The reason I suggest this book as an alternative to The True Cost in the title, is because I believe it’s just as hard-hitting, even if it’s not factual and can’t show you the honest and costly reality of the industry through video footage.

It also explores more than just the Rana Plaza – the only true story included within the main plot – and the realities of factory conditions. The fictional aspect allows you to understand and interpret each story in a way which you can empathise with yourself.

Although I judged Cameron at first for his corporate position, I came to understand that he emphasised easily with what was going on in front of him. There’s no excuse for not being able to take a step back and really understand what is going on from an emotional level but the parallels between his personal life and what he was finding out about the industry, reminded me of my post after my experiences with the Italian earthquakes in 2016 (you can’t prevent an earthquake but you can prevent people from getting hurt).

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

Cameron was struggling with guilt over the death of his wife Olivia, which he believed could have been prevented by him taking a break from driving when he was tired.

The factory fire described in the book could have been prevented if Presto relieved some of its pressure off of suppliers (even when as the book explains, Presto’s customers wouldn’t notice the difference if they did) – therefore, he was able to really grasp the issue at hand as he was dealing with a similar personal issue.

You may notice that the two main characters are both men, but to me, this actually supports the book as a whole and adds something really important to certain stories. For example, the character Alya experiences sexual assault and rape from a factory supervisor and ends up pregnant, alone and unable to go back home when she’s made to leave her factory.

Sexual assault has been highlighted in the news recently and thankfully, a lot of good is coming from the bad, with more women and victims coming forward to show that this really is a pressing issue. However, Alya’s story in the book is one which is hardly ever spoken about due to the fact that women like her, aren’t able to speak out. It could jeopardise their whole life and risk worsening their position.

Cameron and Joshua are two men who are in positions of power and privilege (which they could easily abuse) and are able to help Alya out of her situation and begin the process of making sure it doesn’t happen again.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

If I’m to point out one major takeaway from the book, it’s that facing up to ignorance is a huge challenge in the fight for change within the fashion industry (and many other industries, too). Whether that’s from a government perspective, a company, an investor or more specifically, consumers.

In the book, it takes a video of one of the garment workers speaking out their story for somebody high up in Presto to really open their eyes, even when they’ve been faced by the press, activists and their own employees with stacks upon stacks of evidence as to why change needs to happen.

A lot of the time, we don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to watch films and documentaries like The True Cost because then we have to finally admit that we could be doing so much better. That’s why, once again, this book is a great alternative – you can read it as you wish, knowing it’s fictional, and take it into your own hands to apply your thoughts and feelings to how it affects you and your own shopping habits.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

My rough sketches of Cameron, Madison, Josh and Alya based upon my imagination.

What books have you read recently? Share your recommendations in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle

By March 2, 2017 Ethical

Seeing as I’ve mentioned it at least a dozen times in previous blog posts, it’s probably about time I spoke about my reading of To Die For by Lucy Siegle, isn’t it? This book review is going to be in a slightly different format, similar to my review of Vivienne Westwood’s book because I’m going to talk about three different topics I hadn’t thought about before…

If you’re wondering why these pictures were taken at the beach; I read most of this book on a tiny bench by the sea.to die for by lucy siegle book review - ethical fashion

#1 – Cotton has a cost…

It’s a lot easier for us all to relate to stories and issues which connect directly with the clothes we wear. It’s easier for us to open our ears and minds to stories about some of the final hands which held them and put the garments together, and it’s even easier for us to forget about the people long before that; the people who made us the fabrics. One of the most eye-opening chapters in To Die For, was the chapter dedicated to cotton and the sections which focused heavily on cotton picking.

One of the biggest cotton producing countries in the world (7th biggest, according to WorldKnowing.com in 2015) is Uzbekistan.  I’d never thought about cotton picking in much detail so when I read that “in 2009 between one and two million children were forced out into Uzbekistan’s fields”, it’s safe to say I was taken aback. It’s also safe to say that cotton picking isn’t pleasant labour.

to die for by lucy siegle book review - ethical fashion

Each year the government-installed system forces millions of Uzbekistani’s to take part in cotton production where they are exposed to unknown chemicals, unsafe and unsanitary housing, and lack of safe drinking water (you can read more about it on CottonCampaign.org); many of these people are children or teenagers.

Lucy interviewed a former cotton-picking student who was supposed to reach a quota of 60kg (132 pounds) per day, for the duration of 54 days. As a sixteen-year-old at the time, she only managed to reach this quota once due to how lightweight cotton is. There is so much more to Gulnara’s story, yet I’d never even thought of it before. When practically all of us wear cotton, why is it that we don’t know enough about it?

to die for by lucy siegle book review - ethical fashion

#2 – We need to learn more about sustainability…

I’ve always thought more about ethics over sustainability. I suppose not only did I know more about the human side of the industry but it also always struck a chord more easily than say, issues to do with the environment. Knowing that I am responsible for another human being’s treatment to a certain extent was one of the main reason I started approaching fashion more consciously. But I really need to thank this book for making me think about the earth too.

From the date this book was published, the textile industry was one of “the biggest water consumers in the world, using 3.2% of all the 1,400km³ of water available to the human race each year”. This isn’t the only staggering number though, we have to remember that fashion’s footprint is much larger when you consider coal usage, land and water pollution, the effects of herding animals for fibres and skins and all of the added and extra effects which come with the production of things like zips and metal eyelets.

There is so much to consider, it’s no wonder we don’t know enough. There are ways to do it, though. Lucy recommends using a tool called EcoMetrics which enables you to calculate the rough footprint of your wardrobe by looking at what fabrics your clothes are made up of. I’ve yet to try it myself but it’s just one of the small ways you can start to understand sustainability a little clearer.

One of the tools I have used though, is Nike’s Making App which allows you to compare different fabrics and their footprint in different areas. I used it quite a while back in a blog post about my wardrobe at the time but it’s still relevant today too.

to die for by lucy siegle book review - ethical fashion

#3 – Should we wear fur – faux or real?

Fur is actually a rather hot topic right now. There were PETA protests and campaigns happening at fashion week this season and there are debates and conversations starting up online so perhaps what Lucy spoke about in To Die For will get you looking at it all from a new perspective.

Lucy opens up to the idea that faux fur might also be a contributor to why real, natural fur is an issue within itself. In more recent times, fur has become more of a statement of wealth rather than warmth and practicality that it originated from many moons ago. There’s this illusion that fur is something beautiful and something to hold and treasure because of its cost and value and this idea seems to be coming back into fashion as a very similar statement.

There are pros and cons to each side of the story of faux and real fur but the book made me start to think whether both are equally as bad. Neither option is ethical; chemicals cause faux fur to be polluting and unsustainable and the slaughtering of animals and the treatment of the skins are unsustainable and unethical when it comes to real.

If a faux fur jacket doesn’t degrade for at least six hundred years (according to a quote by Teresa Platt on page 189), how can we really choose either option? It’s come to my conclusion from reading the chapters on both sides of the story, that we really can’t. Wearing faux-fur is still making fur of any kind seem aspirational and iconic. I really want to delve into more surrounding this subject, especially vegan leathers and furs.

to die for by lucy siegle book review - ethical fashion

Overall, To Die For is definitely one of the heavier books I’ve read on these topics but it’s worth it if you want to focus on areas you have perhaps, a weaker knowledge for. There are also lovely illustrations dotted throughout and unique personal stories which you, of course, won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re looking for a book which is more about ethical brands which are already up and running, I’d recommend taking a look at my review of Slow Fashion by Safia Minney, who is mentioned in this book a couple of times towards the end. For more of a feminist take on things, Threadbare is a great one, and for something just as thought-provoking but a little lighter in terms of writing and size, Stitched Up is another amazing alternative.

I’m currently reading Clothing Poverty, so I’m sure you’ll see a review of that soon.


What do you think of the topics mentioned? Should we wear fur? What books are you reading? Let me know in the comments!


Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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My 2016 Ethical Fashion Education | Books, Documentaries & More

By December 18, 2016 Ethical

I wasn’t sure how to end off 2016 in terms of blog posts. I haven’t been able to get out anywhere at the moment due to a broken down car, so my shoot locations are limited (as well as my wardrobe, on another note), and most of the topics I want to focus on are ones that I would like to tie into my ethical directory re-launch in the New Year. If you know me, you know that time is something that I revolve around in terms of starting new things, so instead of publishing rather unfestive posts, I thought I would look back on the year in terms of what I’ve been learning. There will also be my annual round-up post coming up soon, but for now, let’s talk about the ethical sides of things in my ethical fashion education summary…


To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle 

I have to admit that I’m still working my way through the pages of this book but it deserved a mention nonetheless. Some of the topics covered are ones I haven’t necessarily thought about before, like one of the recent chapters about the auditing process in the fast fashion industry. It’s a lengthy book and covers some of the early 2000s and how the cycle and issues have changed over recent years. Reading this and the other books mentioned in this post is a sure-fire way to learn more factual information about your clothes and where they possibly come from.

BBC Panorama Undercover: The Refugees Who Make Our Clothes

This half-hour documentary by BBC Panorama is a short and simple insight into the issues going on in the industry, and why we should be opening our eyes to them when they affect us so clearly. Some of the quotes from mentioned brands like ASOS and Next genuinely upset me, because it shows how the brands themselves don’t even know what is going on to the full extent that they are. The filming takes place undercover in Turkey, focusing on factories and workshops using child labour and illegally employed Syrian refugees. If you shop with ASOS, Next, Marks and Spencers, Mango, ZARA and the like – please watch this.

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy E Hoskins (Review)

A different perspective on the fashion industry, focusing on the capitalist cycle of how it works, as well as topics like racism and size. I found that although this was still a factually informative book and every chapter was extremely insightful, the way it was written and the illustrations alongside it, made it more down to earth and inviting. You can read my full review on Tansy’s book above. It’s been a pleasure to connect with her and support a book which I hope many of you go on to read!

▷ UDITA (Arise): A documentary about female garment workers from Bangladesh

Out of all of the documentaries I’ve watched about the darker side of fast fashion (well, actually – is there even a lighter side?), this truly shows that even the garment workers themselves want us to change our ways, even just by thinking about the way we shop. Being a conscious shopper does so much more than being oblivious to your actions. Every penny you spend with a brand using an exploitive system, is a vote towards their work. It’s over an hour long, but perhaps you can switch out a Netflix episode for something like this, instead?

Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics by Safia Minney (Review)

Safia’s book was the first I bought purely to learn more about ethical fashion. Now that I’ve read several others, I would have to say I would recommend this once you have learned more about the issues themselves, whether that’s about exploitation or inequality or child labour or any of the topics mentioned in this post and beyond. This is mainly because the second half of this book is almost a directory for brands paving the way, and as much as that is important, I think it’s what you need to read about afterwards. It’s still an educational book though, and it was really eye opening to see what other ethical advocates had to say.

Remake: Join the Ethical Fashion Movement

A recent discovery for me is the movement, Remake. I love finding sites that are dedicated to inspiring people to becoming more ethical, especially when it focuses on younger people. There’s a great video by the founder, Ayesha Barenblat, on their core aim and how millennials can choose to change the world they live in. It also touches on the topic of strength and female equality, which is something I mentioned in my post focusing on why I don’t think you can be a feminist if you support fast fashion. If you want to follow along with their journey and start integrating their great work in to your day-to-day, make sure you follow them on social media.

Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking by Anne Elizabeth Moore (Review)

For those wanting a more visual way of learning about the fashion industry, you might like to take a look at the comic book I read this year called, Threadbare. Focusing on some of the more taboo areas of in the industry like sex and trafficking, it might not be for everyone, but it’s worth taking a look at nonetheless. It’s what inspired my post on feminism, and is what I hope inspires some of you to broaden your minds even further, about what isn’t always discussed.

What have you been learning about in 2016? Leave your ethical fashion education recommendations in the comments!


I hope you have a wonderful holiday this year. I’ll be back before the New Year, I promise!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Slow Fashion by Safia Minney

By July 2, 2016 Ethical

I’m going to say something for the 1000th time when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion; it’s really important to educate yourself.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review


SLOW FASHION by Safia Minney


You might be aware of some of the issues surrounding the fashion industry these days, but how much do you really know about what’s being done to make changes? How many real life stories have you listened to? How do you know what to do as a consumer?

These are all questions you should be able to answer easily, but for a lot of people, it’s hard to answer them without saying, “I don’t know” or perhaps, “I don’t know enough to give you an answer”. So yes, I may have said it several times by now, but it really is important. We all need to learn more, so that we’re open and aware about what needs to change… a big emphasis on need, because it really does need to.

So, as a way to educate yourself, I’m going to introduce you to a book that I’ve just finished reading – “Slow Fashion” by founder and CEO of People Tree, Safia Minney. “Slow Fashion” is a book which explores the work which is being done to make the fashion industry more ethical and sustainable, as well inspiring entrepreneurs, creatives and consumers, to think differently and start to make change, no matter how big or small.

Safia has been running People Tree, a leading ethical and sustainable fashion brand for the past 25 years, working alongside designers like Zandra Rhodes to create exciting and ethical collections which not only help the people making them, but the environment and the earth.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

One of the main themes throughout the book is something that I wanted to share with you, and is something that emphasises my point about educating yourself; small steps lead to bigger things. One of the best ways to explain this is through a quote (from the book) by actress and model, Lily Cole…

“Whenever I am given a choice, I try to make the right one.”

When you learn about some of the issues in the industry, you can be taken aback. For me personally, it was like something clicked and suddenly I had this whole new mind-set (thanks to the wonderful movie which is, The True Cost)… but there are cons to that happening. I ended up putting pressure on myself and started to rush things and try and reevaluate everything I knew before. Although now I see this as a pro, I basically stopped shopping altogether. I felt guilty whenever I wore clothes I knew were unethical, and I tried to change too much of what I could all at one time.

The reason I’m explaining this, is because Lily’s quote uses one specific word; try.

When we learn about all of these issues, for most of us, it’s hard to suddenly change everything. It’s hard to step out of what we can afford or what we are able to do immediately. But it is possible to do in the long run (though of course, the faster the better, as I said; things need to change) and that’s something we mustn’t forget.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

It’s reassuring to read that even people who are making changes, aren’t always perfect. Sometimes it’s impossible. Not everyone has the freedom and privilege to purchase specifically ethical clothing due to the fact that it’s usually higher in price than normal run of the mill, high-street fashion (don’t forget though, second-hand and vintage clothing is an option). But being aware that there is a choice, is very valuable.

Walking into a shop and asking yourself whether you need an item, or whether you could find a better, more high quality option that will be more sustainable, is so important. And to loop it all back; being aware, means educating yourself, which is why I’m recommending this book.

At the same time as learning more about the issues and effects of fast-fashion and mass consumption, you can discover new brands and labels to shop from, some of which include: Goodsociety, Miss Green, Braintree, Armed Angels, MADE, LeJu, Joanna Cave and Quazi Design.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review


Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy E. Hoskins


You can also discover other books including the one photographed in this post, “Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion”. I’m only into Chapter 2 and it’s already highly insightful. It not only looks into fast-fashion (both on the high-street and on the catwalk), but it also covers topics like racism and body image. It’s a one of a kind book to add to your reading list! (I’ll be sure to review it when I’m finished).

Also through this book, I’ve discovered the film, “Udita” by Rainbow Collective. It’s an extraordinary and raw insight into the lives of the female factory workers in Bangladesh, most of whom were affected by the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. One of the most touching moments in the film for me, is when one of the workers is explaining their desires and wishes for the future…

I wish people would buy clothes with a conscience. My desire is that what’s happening now will never be repeated. That people who are buying clothes abroad stop and think about how much they buy for it and how much is the true cost for us here.”

If the workers themselves are saying they wish we could shop with a conscience, then surely that’s enough for us all to implement change, no matter how big or small? The majority of us have a choice. We all have the ability to learn about our choices. Learning is all part of the process, and really, at the most, it can take an hour out of your day to do so.

When you next sit down to binge watch your favourite Netflix show, why not click onto The True Cost (which is on Netflix anyway) or go onto Amazon and order yourself a book, instead? Small steps lead to bigger things, and we can all make them if we try.


What are you going to do to learn more? Have you read Slow Fashion already? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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