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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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The True Cost Movie | My Thoughts, 40% Off & FREE Download

By June 6, 2015 Fashion

 If you haven’t seen me nattering away on Twitter, then you won’t have seen my tweets about a new documentary film called, The True Cost. I first discovered it on the Business of Fashion YouTube channel (which I would highly recommend subscribing to) and had been waiting for the launch day ever since. I thought I would discuss the movie and what I’ve taken from it, to hopefully inspire you and get you all to watch it. Sorry if this is a long one… if you read all the way you might find a 40% off surprise at the end!

The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

The film itself probably isn’t suitable for all age groups. There are a couple of graphic scenes, so please watch at your own risk, or at least ask your parents first if you’re under 13.

First of all, the film in summary: The True Cost is a documentary film about the true costs of fashion. It talks about (what I like to call) ‘diseases’ of the fashion industry. Whether that be in production or in the end, consumption. I do have to admit, it makes your stomach flip inside out. You feel a sense of guilt as you watch what is before your eyes, but I think that it is the only way anyone can get the message across. You may be thinking, why the guilt? What have you done wrong? Well, it depends who you are.

As I just mentioned, the film talks about everything from production to consumption, and I believe it is important to define what we mean by that. What exactly is a ‘consumer’? In my opinion a consumer of (mainly, fast) fashion is somebody who literally, consumes. Its somebody who takes what they can, because they can.

The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

I don’t think I am a consumer. I don’t buy things just for the fun of it… I don’t live in a world where I run into a shop on Black Friday screaming because the deals are just SO inviting. I live in a world where I buy what I want when I need it.

Okay I admit, I don’t necessarily need any more clothes, but I never buy things just because. I’m not trying to excuse myself at all… but I do understand the problems in buying dirt cheap. Now that the problems have been put in front of me, I think more about the item and what its been through. I absolutely adore second-hand shopping and actually find it slightly more satisfying when I find something that is my style. Its like a treasure trove… but you’re not just buying, you’re recycling too.

But, I am part of the problem, and you probably are too.

We should all know about the Rana Plaza disaster by now; 1,133 people died (and 2,500 were injured) in 2013 when the factory in Bangladesh collapsed. It was the factory home to many well known western brands including the ‘almighty’ Primarni… I mean, uh, Primark. It was also the workplace of many women (and men) of which provided them with around $50 a month (or much less) and extremely poor living conditions.


CLICK TO TWEET: Share a quote from this post and get even more people involved. Educate as many people about the true cost of fashion…


The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

The factory collapsed on April 29th 2013 after several employees noticed cracks appearing on the walls. You may recognise this date as Fashion Revolution Day which started exactly 1 year after the disaster.

If you watch The True Cost, you will soon understand that this is not the only ‘disease’. It isn’t just the fact that Rana Plaza collapsed and killed many, that makes it so important. It’s also the fact that even the fabrics, leathers and materials that go into these cheap clothes, are harmful. Chemicals used on the farms are dangerous, and there are already many cases which show that we could should be doing better.

It has really made me start to think that the industry, including the consumers, just keep putting a one word excuse in front of them… money.

The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

If the industry, and all the major companies and corporations really cared about the people, the environment, the future and their credibility, they would stop putting it all down to money. Did you know that a t-shirt in the US would cost 3 cents more if the factory workers in places just like Bangladesh were paid enough to live under standard living conditions?

Yes, there are middle men in between, but if it is over us and the consumers spending a few more pennies, the H&Ms and the ZARAs of the world having to spend a few more too, and mothers in the garment factories having to send their children away because working in a factory is the only answer, meaning their children aren’t being educated or looked after, then that is sickening.


CLICK TO TWEET: Sharing this blog post will already start putting the message across. Spread awareness for the true cost of fashion…


The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

That is where my guilt comes in. I’m giving my money to companies that don’t actually care that much about anything other than what goes into their pocket. I don’t shop with them that often, but it really does make me wish I could do more.

Right now, what I can do is influence you, my readers. I can change your view on things, make you watch The True Cost and other documentaries to educate yourself on topics that effect you, the world and many individual families. I can also avoid consuming products from these shops as much as I can (I know that for some of us on tighter budgets, it is harder. It often feels like the only option). I can buy second-hand items which also recycles items that are perfectly usable. I can support and promote brands that are doing all the right things, like People Tree for example.

I know that isn’t much. If I could, I would be doing so much more. You could be too. Think about what you could be doing. Don’t think that what you could be doing as worthless because if we all thought that then we would get nowhere. If we didn’t vote for our favourite contestants on Britain’s Got Talent, then nobody would win. Use your voice and spread the word because you can. Speak for the families and workers who get beaten and killed for wanting something that is totally human and fair.


CLICK TO TWEET: Think about what you could be doing and ask your followers to start joining in too. Change the industry one step at a time…



The True Cost Movie - Fashion Documentary - 40% Off Discount Code

SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER FOR 40% OFF THE TRUE COST & A FREE “Change The Industry” CHECKLIST

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To really get the ball rolling, the creators of The True Cost have given you guys a discount code for 40% off when you buy the movie directly from their site via VHX. To get your discount code, simply subscribe to my newsletter (click the link or use the form above) and in the “Subscription Confirmed” email, there will be a code and also a FREE checklist for you to start changing the industry.

Try and achieve all of the simple tasks on the list! Complete them knowing that even if what you do is small, it’s still making a difference. Tiny grains of sand make up the most luscious beaches, so start small and make this problem become a BIG issue.

It’s not just the companies and brands responsibility, it’s our job too.

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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