COVID-19 has caused problems all over the world, it’s not only people’s health being harmed. Businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, in particular the fashion production industry. Bangladesh is set to lose millions in exports of textiles, leaving many families without jobs or income. Cally Russell, CEO of online retailer Mallzee, set up Lost Stock to help these families in need. So what is it like to order from Lost Stock and what are they really doing to help? Antonia Devereux tells us everything we need to know.
What is Lost Stock?
When the pandemic hit, shops closed their doors, restaurants shut their kitchens and we placed our bums on the sofa. We weren’t going out and the only new clothes we needed were some more comfy joggers or a pair of slippers. Demand in the fashion industry plummeted, causing many leading brands to cancel millions of pounds worth of stock.
Manufacturers in Bangladesh, India and China received little or no payment for these cancelled items, even though they had already incurred the costs of production. This left textile workers jobless and without any income for basic necessities like food. Bangladesh was hit particularly hard as the garment industry accounts for 84% of the country’s exports, leaving 2.28 million workers affected by stock cancellations. As a densely populated country, social distancing has been difficult and the virus has spread easily, only making it harder for these families. Cally Russell, the founder of Lost Stock, had an idea to help support those most at risk as well as stop the clothes from going to landfill.
Lost Stock was set up to help distribute these clothes out to people like yourself. With 50% off their retail value, each box is £35 and includes at least 3 items from leading retailers. In partnership with the SAJIDA Foundation, the proceeds feed a family in Bangladesh for a week and so far they have helped over 114,233 families. Trying to be as transparent as possible, they have provided a clear outline of where your money goes, so here’s a breakdown;
Transaction Charge: 3%,
Our Staff Costs, Marketing & Returns: 9%
Product Costs: 30%
Transport and Logistics: 9%
Our NGO Partner, SAJIDA Foundation: 37%
Sounds perfect right? Well actually there are a few things Lost Stock have been criticised for. The biggest being that shoppers may believe that buying a discounted box of clothes is the way out of a systematic problem created by the fast fashion industry and poor workers rights. The important thing to understand is that although this is an innovative short term solution that allows us to support those in need, it won’t stop it from happening again in the future.
When your order arrives, all the original branding has been removed and replaced with Lost Stock tags. The issue with this is that it removes the accountability from these brands, which really should be paying up in the first place. However, this isn’t entirely Lost Stock’s fault as it’s illegal to sell clothes with another brand labelling in the UK and many of the companies have been outed on the news. The #PayUp campaign was started to hold accountability to these brands to better protect workers and many retailers have already signed up.
How does it work?
At Lost Stock you don’t actually get to pick the clothes that you receive, instead you fill out a quick set of questions to tailor them to you:
– Would you like male or female clothes? Male/Female
– What size are you? XS to XXL
– How old are you? If you dress younger or older, choose your preferred age range. 16-24 to 50+
– Your preferences? Surprise me/Further questions:
– What colour scheme do you prefer? Brights/Dark-Neutral
– Do you prefer plain or patterned tops and t-shirts? Plain/Patterned
I personally went for dark-neutral and patterned, so that they weren’t too crazy or too boring. After you have filled these out, all you have to do is enter your address and payment details and wait patiently for your box to arrive.
What was inside
With a lengthy 3 month wait, my box finally arrived and I was really excited to see what I had got. It came in a compostable bag and not a cardboard box which was kind of disappointing, as they won’t compost unless you take them to a special recycling centre, which can be misleading.
I opened it up to reveal 3 patterned tops, each individually packed in plastic bags but this is common practise in most clothing factories so that wasn’t so surprising. Let’s take a look:
Top 1: Black and White Spotted Cami
This one is my favourite of the 3, it’s very pretty and easy to wear. It has little bow ties on the straps so you can adjust the length to fit you. Simple and cute, admittedly not something I would normally buy but I think I will actually get a lot of wear out of it. A good little wardrobe addition.
Top 2: Blue Ruffle Sleeved Striped Top
From best to worst… this top wasn’t doing me any favours. Wish I suited this style of top but even my mum laughed at me. A lovely top on the right person, just not me! Can’t blame them for trying though.
Top 3: Printed V Neck Puff Sleeve Tea Blouse
I didn’t think I would like this one when I saw it but once I had it on it grew on me! It’s a very flattering blouse that ties at the back and the little puffed sleeves had me hooked. Will definitely come in handy for work and when I do adulting.
Lost Stock, how do I feel about you? Well, I was actually pretty happy with the clothes that I received. Although they weren’t things I would normally buy, it’s nice to have something a little different to switch things up. The quality of all 3 tops felt really good and I could tell that if I bought all of these on the highstreet/online it would cost more than £35. Each will definitely get worn but only two of them by me, the blue ruffled top may have to be gifted.
Knowing that not only did this little black and white bag help prevent thousands of garments from landfill but also did some good to people who really need it, ticks a lot of boxes for me. However, we need to remember that is only a short term solution to a bigger problem that requires a bigger solution. Workers in Bangladesh, India and China need and deserve better workers rights and stable pay. By creating a Garment Workers Protection Act, if anything like this ever happens again, them and their families will be safe. Check out how you can help on: www.supportgarmentworkers.org
About the Author: Antonia Devereux is an Environment, Economics and Ecology student at the University of York and I am currently the Social Media Manager for WILD Magazine. My passion for sustainability also led me to write my own blog, Greener Grasses, which provides easy ways to reduce your impact on the planet.