Canceled orders, hopeful invoices, prospects for factories out of business, employees becoming redundant, yes, one of the key elements of the western fast fashion trade, Bangladeshi textile mills, has experienced difficulties lately. And there are very real human costs for all this.
Countless families depend on the work provided by these factories for their livelihoods but when the corona virus hits Europe and in particular British orders dry up like the Teesta River that flows through the country.
This is a dangerous position for everyone in the supply chain and especially for those who have been described as bad people in all this; retail brands, which have canceled orders because sales have plummeted. In the sense of who can blame them? But it has a bad impact on their suppliers.
Because the commercial structure of the fashion supply chain places a large part of the risk burden on garment producers who cannot collect until the goods are sent.
It is estimated that fashion retailers currently have around 15 billion pounds in stock, and there are 3.2 billion pounds in textile factories throughout Bangladesh. As one factory boss said, “If the coronavirus doesn’t kill my workers, starvation will occur”.
For £ 35 a person can buy a box containing at least three clothing items worth £ 70 and produce from the box, through collaboration with Sajida Foundation, went to support Bangladeshi textile workers and their families for a week.
Although what is in the box is unknown, using data from Mallzee, customer preferences including size, style, color and so on are known to personalize each box.
I spoke with Mallzee and Lost Stock Founder and chief executive officer, Cally Stevens about the success of this initiative.
“We are basically completing a part of the supply chain that has been damaged by COVID-19,” he said.
He believes that although they can have a charity, there is no way anyone would donate £ 35 to a charity but “by combining with purchases, we can generate more expenses”.
In this way, people can “buy presents for themselves in the future, do good for workers in Bangladesh while at the same time do good for the planet by preventing clothes from ending up in landfills”.
Stevens was reluctant to share which clothing brands should be destined, for obvious reasons, and all without brand labels. But he was more open when discussing where the money was going, his organization only taking a 9% margin to cover costs.
The clothes in each Lost Stock box come from the factory where the stock has been canceled. The majority came from Bangladesh and deliveries were quoted in 6-8 weeks, although Stevens said that they were actively trying to reduce this.
With more than 85,000 boxes already purchased in just the first few weeks, this scheme clearly captures the imagination. Giving back is always something many people want and are happy to do, and by buying a box, it provides much needed support during these difficult and challenging times.
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