Meet Lost Stock: The Half-Price Fashion Boxes Saving Factory Workers – Forbes

Lost Stock hopes to turn over $2 billion in cancelled fashion orders to the customers that want … [+] them, supporting factory workers in Bangladesh (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Getty Images

In coronavirus’ continual wake, an estimated £2.4. billion ($2.9 billion) worth of western fashion brands’ clothing orders have been cancelled, despite already being produced, leaving more than a million Bangaldeshi factory workers without work or pay.

It’s a crisis in and of itself; without intervention, the ‘lost stock’ will not only be sent to landfill, creating pollution and greenhouse gasses, but the workers and families affected will be left to starve.

The Bangladeshi and Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA) has already said the impact of the cancellations has been “catastrophic” for Bangladesh, but one small start-up is doing everything it can to help.

Last week, the Tinder-esque shopping app Mallzee launched Lost Stock—a non-profit service selling boxes of the factories’ abandoned stock direct to consumers, at half the price.

For £35 ($43) plus shipping, each box contains three high street-ready clothing items catered to your size and style preferences. You don’t get to choose the items outright, as it’s not as cost or time efficient, but at 50% off their intended RRP, plus the knowledge a single box supports a worker and their family for a week, the lack of choice doesn’t seem to matter.

In its first week, Lost Stock has already sold 62,000 boxes.

Topshop are one of many major retailers to cancel stock orders from factories in Bangladesh (Photo … [+] by Michael Gottschalk/Getty Images for Topshop Topman)

Getty Images for Topshop Topman

According to the BGMEA, brands including Topshop, Primark, Gap, Matalan and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill have cancelled or suspended their orders to minimize their losses, despite a public outcry.

Others, including Next, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, have said they will reverse their cancellations and honour existing orders with their Bangladeshi suppliers.

Still, more than one-quarter of the country’s four million garment workers have already lost their jobs or wages, and many brands have started to cancel upcoming orders, refusing to pay for the cost of pre-purchased raw materials.

Factory workers have been staging demonstrations to demand payment of their arrear salaries during … [+] the Coronavirus Covid-19 crisis (Photo by Zabed Hasnain Chowdhury/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

To support the workers via Lost Stock, simply visit their website, select womenswear or menswear, then answer a couple of quick questions to cater the box to your size and style. A few weeks later, a tailored box of clothes will arrive in the post.

Mallzee has used its existing data and logistics framework to power the process for both buyer and worker, knowing even the best humanitarian charities would struggle with a solution, beyond donations, where those 982 million or so pieces of neglected clothes are concerned.

To ensure a fully transparent approach, the company is also appointing a board of external retail executives to provide oversight and regular updates on its mission. Currently, the box fee is split between a 3% transaction charge, 9% staff and marketing, 30% product cost, 9% transport and logistics, 12% postage, and 37% to its NGO Partner, SAJIDA Foundation.

The next time your friend starts talking about missing shopping over Zoom? Send them here.


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