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The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, September 19 2014 8:31 PM UTC +00:00
Michael LavergneBy Michael Lavergne
First created
Michael LavergneBy Michael Lavergne
First created
CA$ 721
pledged of CA$ 8,500 goal
21
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, September 19 2014 8:31 PM UTC +00:00

About

The real environmental impact of our disposable consumer culture
The real environmental impact of our disposable consumer culture

 FIXING FASHION; BEYOND RANA PLAZA

Rethinking the way we make, market and buy our clothes

The staggering loss of life which splashed across the websites, television screens and print publications of global media outlets only hours after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh on April 24th, 2013 shocked the world.

In the days which followed, activists and consumers alike took to the streets and social media as the fallout from images which captured the human suffering of the country’s largest industrial disaster ever reverberated through the boardrooms of fashion brands and retailers caught up in the event. Calls for action mounted as governments and NGOs derided business leaders for their failure to ensure the safety of workers in an industry notorious for its poor human rights record.

As an 18 year apparel industry professional who has spoken out vocally against the social, economic and environmental costs of the global fashion trade, I have been deeply disappointed that few industry insiders have come forward to publicly address the real issues at the heart of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Disappointed because after 20 years of industry focus on labour and human rights issues we should be much farther ahead than we are; understandable perhaps as so many in the industry are simply too afraid for their jobs to speak up, and frustrated that so many senior executives remain narrowly focused on the financial benefits of cheap labour and lax environmental standards overseas.

Few of us go untouched by the fashion industry. It is one of the most important sectors of the global economy in terms of investment, trade and employment. And while few of us shop at the haute couture boutiques of Chanel, Vuitton or Fendi, the trickle-down lifestyle trends driven by high end designers influence everything from the vacations we take to the materials used in the latest fast-fashions of brands such as Canada’s Joe Fresh, Brussels based C&A and Spain’s highly successful ZARA brand.

With sales valued at well over $US 500 billion a year, international apparel markets yield a significant amount of leverage over industries employing tens of millions of men, women and in some cases children in the developing world. These are the people whose lives are most impacted, whose stories I will tell and whose voices are rarely heard by consumers half a world away.

This concentration of buying power and the ongoing trend towards mass retail formats has also meant that the costs we pay for clothing have enjoyed a lengthy period of decline much to our delight as consumers. For nearly two decades the costs of apparel and its two main inputs, fabric and labour, have been crushed to the bare minimum. Meanwhile retailers, fast-fashion brands and governments around the world have colluded to pry open markets via preferential trade agreements. They have sent well paid manufacturing and creative jobs overseas while benefiting from operations in host countries whose practices in environmental protection, labour rights and workplace safety have proven out of touch with the legal standards rarely enforced by developing countries. This is the true legacy of Rana Plaza which I will put under the microscope and which we cannot afford to ignore.

FIXING FASHION is a six month non-fiction publishing project, my industry insider’s account of this world-wide phenomenon, as I examine the worst of the industry’s abuses while also calling readers’ attention to the best of a new breed of entrepreneurs and stakeholders lobbying for change across international supply chains. With first-hand knowledge of the decision makers and the processes they follow, I will speak with many of my peers, from retail vice presidents to labour union organizers to factory workers on the ground while I provide a hard look from the inside out at the very real human and environmental impacts of our consumer culture’s addiction to cheap fashion.

Importantly, this project is also a manifesto for the collective consumer, business and civil society actions I believe are needed in helping us to rethink the way we make, market and buy our clothes in one of the global economy’s most lucrative and labour intensive sectors.

With the input and support of some of Canada’s top literary agents, I spent a number of months earlier this year polishing the book proposal which has now earned the attention of a shortlist of well known publishing houses interested in bringing the project to market. My decision to proceed with New Society Publishers has been based on their long standing record in US and Canadian markets of bringing thought provoking, meaningful writing to market.

But as anyone who still loves to read a great novel or delve into the revelations of penetrating journalism knows, the mainstream publishing industry has been struggling the past few years to make the wholesale transition to new media while embracing technologies which move light-years faster than it takes to get a manuscript read.

Thus, while the support of a reputable, established publisher is in hand, funding is tight to support the research, travel, time and effort required for a book project team to produce a finished work ready to go to print.

So a new Kickstarter project is born in order to help provide the support and financing this critical project requires through the initial six month research and writing window of September 2014 through February 2015.

In support of local economies and employment, funding will be used to contract with local, in-country research assistants across Latin America and SE Asia and to fulfill award commitments with responsible, organic apparel providers in India. Support with also partially be allocated towards the author's interviewing, research and budget travel expenses to core production countries including carbon offsets and the use of small-scale, local hostels and responsible service providers.

Based on publishing industry standard timelines, a February manuscript deadline will meet promotional and marketing schedules to support a Fall 2015 market launch.

With 30% of net profits committed to supporting social, economic and environmental development projects on the ground in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Haiti, every dollar of royalties will be sorely needed. I invite you to support this unique effort, the first of its kind by an apparel industry executive and insider.



Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am an ethical supply chain professional and management systems auditor by trade. I have spent the past eighteen years traveling the world managing multimillion dollar procurement, supply chain and ethical trade programmes for and on behalf of leading brands, retailers, audit firms and labor standards from Wal-Mart Stores, Hanes Brands and Kellwood Corp. to Champion’s C9 label, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) Hong Kong, Bureau Veritas Asia,Tabi International and most recently with Canada’s own Joe Fresh brand.

Since 1995 with my family in tow, I lived and worked on the ground in Mexico, Central America and Asia before returning home to Canada in late 2010. I have collaborated to spearheaded new industry development in East Africa and The Middle East and have struggled first-hand with labour, human rights and environmental issues on behalf of these organizations worldwide.

In 2005 we moved full-time to Asia as China embarked on a significant expansion of its apparel export industries. It was there that, following a period of much soul searching, I made a conscious decision to become part of the solution to the problems I perceived in the industry, entering the growing field of responsible supply chain management with the global auditing firm, Bureau Veritas.

I have since written on ethical trade and offshore manufacturing for the Canadian Business Magazine, The Toronto Star, The National Post, and Just-Style among others and have acted as a moderator for international events like The Sustainable Fashion Forum in Hong Kong.

A former student of political science at the University of Toronto’s prestigious Trinity College, I currently live in Toronto with my wife Angelica, our two sons and Willy, our rescued Hong Kong stray while pursuing graduate studies in global diplomacy at the University of London’s School for Oriental and African Studies.

For past articles and commentary by the author kindly see the following links;

Lessons for the Coming Trade with Burma; http://www.canadianbusiness.com/business-strategy/lessons-for-canadas-coming-burma-trade/

Three Cheers for a Living Wage;  http://www.just-style.com/comment/three-cheers-for-a-living-wage_id116916.aspx

Why Bangladesh Matters;  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/05/23/why_bangladesh_matters.html

Avoiding the next Garment Factory Tragedy;  http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/04/03/michael-lavergne-avoiding-the-next-garment-factory-tragedy/

Risks and challenges

As an experienced industry professional with deep international competences and a strong global network of leading brands, retailers, NGOs and organized labor to support the research and writing of FIXING FASHION, the risks are minimal.

Thankfully, a publishing agreement is already in place for Canada and the US with New Society Publishers, a well respected specialty publisher focused on social and environmental justice issues.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 5 or more About $4

    For the price of a triple whipped mocha soy latte, your $5 expression of support will get you a personal e-card of thanks, a connection with the author on Linkedin and a subscription to Fashion Takes Action's monthly eco-apparel newsletter, The triple Stitch!

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    Pledge CA$ 25 or more About $19

    Every dollar counts so for the price of a large pizza & a six pack you'll also get an e-subscription to Fashion Takes Action's Triple Stitch newsletter and a complimentary download of the project's e-book...what a steal!

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    Pledge CA$ 35 or more About $27

    For $35 bucks you'll get a snazzy 100% organic, ethically manufactured FIXING FASHION logo t-shirt to sport around town that has been signed by the author! (and paw printed by our rescued Hong Kong pooch Willy-boy to boot!)

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    Pledge CA$ 45 or more About $34

    For supporting the FIXING FASHION project with $45 you'll be among the first of a limited group of supporters to snag one copy of the first 100 paperback books printed!

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    Pledge CA$ 75 or more About $57

    At the $75 support level you'll get one of only 100 copies of the paperback book to be signed by the author with a personal message of thanks for your support!

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    Pledge CA$ 150 or more About $114

    For the generous support of $150 you will be one of only 20 supporters named and thanked on the Kickstarter Dedication page of the book! Or thank your Mon; she deserves it!

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    Pledge CA$ 500 or more About $380

    3 leadership level supporters of the FIXING FASHION project will receive a personal invitation from the author, a board member at Canada's 'Fashion Takes Action' sustainable apparel organization, to attend the opening day activities, forums, meals and hosted evening soiree at The 2014 World Ethical Apparel Roundtable - WEAR- in Toronto, Canada this coming November.

    http://wear2014.com/

    You'll have to find your own way here, of course, and for out of town supporters, cover your own accommodations and meals outside of those offered at the event

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Funding period

- (35 days)