Latest news: FabricAID launches its laundromat at BDD
Every year, millions of garments go to waste, without the possibility of a second life. Concurrently, millions of new items are sold annually, with fast fashion on the rise… and yet, there remains a large population of individuals, who cannot afford basic clothing. That is where FabricAID came in, to bridge the divide and distribute quality second hand clothing, in a more targeted way.
We sat with Omar Itani (OI), Founder and General Manager at FabricAID, to learn more about the organization, its successes and the way it continues to innovate in a socially conscious way.
BDD: Can you share with us why FabricAID was founded in the first place?
OI: I founded FabricAID in 2017, driven by the discovery that donated clothes were going to waste due to a lack of proper distribution systems. The aim was to eradicate a symptom of poverty, by allowing millions of people who cannot afford a basic human need: clothing, to have a dignified shopping experience that they can afford and enjoy.
BDD: Clearly the model is working with so many successes. Can you share a few?
OI: FabricAID is currently the only social enterprise in the Arab world to raise capital to the degree, which we have achieved. We are currently in the process of raising USD3,000,000 to sustain our efforts and grow. Here are the updated impact numbers:
- Clothes recycled: 482,523 kg
- Direct beneficiaries: 179,682
- Items sold at micro prices: 652,143
BDD: So from FabricAID, you branched out. Can you tell us a bit about the different brands under FabricAID?
OI: We felt it was vital to rethink second hand clothing and how it is perceived. So we have developed 4 brands, as follows:
- Souk l Khalanj – 72% of all donations are sold as Souk l Khalanj.We have three branches in Lebanon and another three in Jordan. The second-hand retail brand provides a dignified shopping experience for marginalized communities at micro-prices (average price below USD 1 per item). Items sold at Souk El Khalanj stores all come from donations collected through FabricAID’s sourcing capacity.
- Second Base – 3% of all donations end up at the Second Base boutique.We have three branches in Lebanon, and one in Jordan. Second Base is a thrift and vintage clothing brand that gives a second chance to unique, hipster and extraverted clothing items that are usually undesired by the marginalized communities that FabricAID targets. Second Base doesn’t only sell vintage and thrift items but also allows the clients to sell their clothes in return for 25% cash back and 50% store credit.
- Okaz – No donations are used in the operation of Souk Okaz.We have 4 branches in Lebanon. The retail brand is where people can buy and/or sell second-hand clothes while eliminating the middle-man. The brand is specialized in bartering international fast fashion brands, targeting middle-class communities. Customers at Souk Okaz are welcome to sell their gently used clothes (provided they follow the brand’s list of accepted brands and conditions) for an attractive immediate cash-back. This brand is independent of the FabricAID donation cycle.
- SALAD –20% of donations end up in our up-cycling brands. Up-cycled clothing brand transforming clothes and especially suits unfit for resale into genderless ready-wear capsule collections. SALAD is sold through consignment, online and pop-ups regionally and internationally.
BDD: Since founding FabricAID in 2017, what would you consider your biggest achievement?
OI: FabricAID’s biggest achievement is crossing two million US dollars in direct sales through a series of socially conscious and sustainable brands while employing 100 full-time employees.
BDD: More recently, you have diversified your offerings. Can you tell us about Fabricair at BDD and why it was important for you to venture into this area?
OI: FabricAID has introduced an in-house laundromat to enhance the quality of second-hand clothes. This initiative prevents clothing from going to waste by effectively removing tough stains, providing thorough washing, and ensuring items are crisply ironed, making them ready for sale in our stores.
Our location at BDD plays a pivotal role in establishing a customer base for our laundromat, contributing to its sustainability by covering operational costs.
To learn more about FabricAID, make a donation or shop from their brands, visit: https://www.fabricaid.me/