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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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Creative Writing – ‘Type Right’

By November 4, 2014 DIY & Lifestyle

So this is a rather different post… it’s only partially fashion related and I have never posted anything like it before. I’m actually going to let you read a bit of my personal creative writing. I’ve always been one for sitting down with a pad of paper and pen, and just writing. No typing involved here my friend (well… other than this post)!

Here’s hoping that nobody loves this enough to want to copy it under their own name… which I highly doubt because I have literally no idea if it is any good… or if it makes sense to actual fasion-y people… So anyway, the following snippet is from Chapter 1 of my little story/novella ma-bobby called ‘Type Right’. It’s about a lady in her late twenties who writes for a fashion magazine and is all over the place with her work, family and now her love life.

Fashion Novel - Creative Writing


The city in the morning is always my favourite time and place; it lives and breathes the essence of a busy life. The smells are stronger as they start to ooze out of all the buildings and people. Strong coffee pours out of small cafés on every corner, the sound of suitcase wheels bounce around, horns from grumpy taxi drivers cause a symphony of different tones and noises.

My daily routine mainly consists of collecting a cappuccino from Starbucks (which I don’t tend to finish due to the fact I prefer tea), then peering into shop windows and snapping away at any new pieces for future editorials (which never get used seeing as the fashion industry is always at least 3 months ahead), and finally scanning my card on the security system inside the doors of ‘NICHE’ magazine.

The building is always a strong slap in the face of white sharpness compared to the blur of colour you experience in the main streets of London. I’m greeted by the same old face of Annie; Annie is the door-lady/PA to any of us slightly less important fashion writers. If you need a coffee or a pick me up of crunchy macroons, just buzz her!

My desk is cluttered as always, covered in possible cover layouts, magazine clippings and model polaroids.

Teresa called… she needs you to interview some interns. Expect bloggers and students, they’re coming at three, so be at her office at four, haha!

Toni is my colleague who sits opposite me and works on most of the same pieces. If I’m out she’ll take any of my messages or calls, and I’ll do the same for her. Teresa is the HR manager. Every six months we employ a new set of interns; usually they’re eighteen or nineteen, interested in art or fashion and help stylists or the social media team.

The last set we had were beyond useless, all they knew how to use were those weird selfie sticks for a piece on Instagram celebrities. Mind you, I think it was an intern before who hired them. It was me one day though, I was the one bringing the coffees and getting a tiny credit on the last page. I was young, free and determined. I needed that last push for my CV, or that foot in the door to my favourite magazine. It’s one of the best experiences you can experience as an aspiring fashion journalist or even a designer.

So erm… yeah! I feel weird to share creative writing on here, and I have no idea how it will go down, but sometimes it’s nice to share something a bit unique and different. Do let me know what your thoughts are and if you would be interesting in reading anymore?! Hehe 🙂 Speak soon!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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