Fash­ion project ben­e­fit ar­ti­sans, fac­tory col­lapse vic­tims

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Outside - LAUREN LA ROSE

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.

Dar­ren Calabrese/The Cana­dian Press

De­signer Laura Siegel ar­ranges scarves made from re­cy­cled saris for her Project Eleven27, which part­ners with ar­ti­sans in In­dia.

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