Fashion project benefit artisans, factory collapse victims
TORONTO — Seeing images emerge from the world’s worst garment industry accident hit Laura Siegel hard — then led her to take action.
The award-winning Canadian designer has partnered with artisans in India on Project Eleven27, creating a collection of 1,127 scarves — one for each victim of the fatal building collapse in Bangladesh.
The April 24, 2013 tragedy at the illegally constructed Rana Plaza brought worldwide attention to the poor conditions endured by workers to create affordable goods.
“Being overseas and having visited a ton of factories at all different levels, I understand how that happened. And it was just sad because I felt that like it’s something that almost could have been prevented if something was just done about it,” said Siegel in an interview at the Toronto Fashion Incubator, a non-profit, small business centre that offers support and mentorship to budding homegrown designers and entrepreneurs.
“Unfortunately, that’s how many factories are run all over the world, so this honestly could How can this not happen again given what the manufacturing standards are like these days?”
Siegel, 26, spent a lot of time when she was younger travelling to developing countries, and has had the opportunity to do knitwear while in Peru and Bolivia where she learned of the passion for craft among the artisans.
“When I met individuals that were sustaining their culture that probably existed exactly the same way 1,000 years ago, (it) is just such a rare special moment,” she said.
“So I wanted to figure out a way for them to be able to continue to sustain what they’re doing, but also to be able to continue relationships and connections with these people while designing — doing what I love — and supporting what they do.”
Siegel’s ready-to-wear womenswear label collaborates with artisans in rural villages around the world to help sustain craft — also a primary focus of Project Eleven27.
For the initiative, recycled saris sourced in Kutch, India, are laser-cut in Delhi and made into a yarn that’s brought back to Kutch. Namori Vankar and his family then weave the brightly coloured saris into the scarves, which are a 50-per-cent-cotton-50-per-centsilk blend.
The 56-cm (22-inch) scarf retails for $135, while the 96.5-cm (38-inch) scarf — which can double as a sarong or wrap — sells for $195. The scarves will be available through Siegel’s online boutique, luxury retailer Holt Renfrew, and online retailers Shop Latitude and Shop Ethica.
Project Eleven27 will be donating 25 per cent of proceeds to Sreepur Village, an organization in Bangladesh helping the families affected by the tragedy.
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster this Thursday, 40 per cent of sales of the scarves sold on that day will benefit the charity.
Designer Laura Siegel arranges scarves made from recycled saris for her Project Eleven27, which partners with artisans in India.