2012. It's been ten years of Thread Together. What's been the journey like? Crests and troughs? Smooth sailing?
The journey started 10 years ago when our founder Andie Halas, discovered a minor manufacturing defect (colour variation) in some towels. Despite it being such a minor defect, the large supply of towels was now unfit for sale. Andie knew she didn't want to simply dispose of them to landfill, but she was unable to find any organisation to use the stock. Taking matters into her own hands, she approached the local Asylum Seekers Centre to donate them.
After seeing women and children sifting through bags of second-hand clothes, Andie had a light bulb moment to approach friends in the fashion industry to divert brand new, excess clothing from landfills and give it to those who needed it most.
The idea began in a 20ft shipping container and now operates from multiple warehouses and a sorting, distribution and fulfilment centre. We now partner with more than 1,000 fashion brands and retailers including RM Williams, P.E Nation, David Jones, Aje, Calvin Klein, Princess Polly, The Athletes Foot and THE ICONIC—to name a few.
The biggest challenge along the way has been finding ways to help the ever-growing number of people in need, while also addressing the increasing urgency around the climate crisis—it’s a scale challenge as we try to do our part in restoring dignity and hope for those doing it tough as well as driving the sustainability agenda across the fashion industry.
The only way we have been able to continue to grow is with strong partnerships with the fashion industry, corporate partners and community who show up day in and day out to help support many vulnerable people.
For something like these, people need to be absolutely sold on the idea. How difficult was it for you to persuade brands to become your fashion partner? surely, it would be much easier to do that now?
We are solving a relevant problem, offering the highest ethical response to fashion excess.
From the early days and until now, all of our traffic is inbound and organic, and we have never had to persuade a brand to come onboard. We have simply shown what we do and brands and retailers just want to get involved. As we have grown, we have leveraged technology and automation to streamline processes to ensure we give our fashion brands a frictionless experience when donating clothing to us. We take care of all logistics including pick up, sorting, warehousing and re-distribution of their products.
The key for us is flexibility in the model, so we can create opportunities for our fashion brands to not only donate clothing but to volunteer with us in our fulfillment centre, on the road and in our clothing hubs to see the impact they are making. Once the impact becomes clear, and a brand can see how their choice to partner with us cannot just help someone at an individual level, but also help the broader environment—the case is compelling.
We really take the word ‘partnership’ seriously at Thread Together where we work hand-in-hand with our fashion brands to not only collect clothing, but also create moments to engage their employees and their customers in our mission.