A shop where everything is free might sound like a bad business venture but for Thread Together it’s part of the philanthropic philosophy at the core of its business. Established in 2012 by Andie Halas, the boutique venture describes itself as a charity organisation with a mission to fight fashion waste and clothe 200,000 people annually by 2020 across Australia. With eight strong years behind them, Thread Together has built a wide network of both company partners and volunteers that help the organisation to reach those Australians most in need. Now with the environmental effects of climate change and economic impacts of Covid-19 combining in a perfect storm being felt across the nation, and worldwide, their mission to reach those most vulnerable has never been more urgent. Luckily for those experiencing tough times, they have just opened a new boutique in the Darlinghurst area on Sydney’s Oxford Street.
Free clothes! How does that work?
With a long history and background working in the fashion industry, Thread Together founder Andie has a deep understanding of how larger fashion chains and fast fashion can be producing an excess of clothes. The 2017 report ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation found that over 70% of clothing becomes deadstock, ending up being incinerated or in landfill – only contributing further to the detrimental impact on the environment of the fashion industry. Thread Together is just one of the organisation trying to solve this problem of deadstock by pushing for a circular textile economy. “Our model is very simple”, says founder Andie “we collect end-of-line brand new stock from clothing providers. With the support of volunteers, the clothes are sorted by age, gender, and purpose, and then re-distributed to people in need through charities across Australia. I think of it as redistributive justice.”
With homelessness continuing to be on the rise in Australia, with a rate of 50 out of every 10,000 people, taking into account population density, according to the last 2016 census, the imperative to return dignity and humanity to those struggling has never been more urgent. Part of Thread Together’s model is to work with charities to reach people and families in need directly, with people shopping in their Wardrobe Initiatives and Clothing Hubs also referred by charity and social partners.