Clothes, one wears them every day, an often unconscious aspect of modern society’s daily routine, but what is the true value of these fabrics?
Firstly, to dress, to buy, and experiment with clothes is a privilege, something that one takes for granted, a given but for some clothing is not available, a lack of clothing often becomes detrimental, a beginning to many other factors of under-privilege. To have clothes, or a plethora of clothes, an inevitable effect of fast-fashion, is to also have a gateway into society; an ability to dress for a job interview, to enter social environments, to keep warm, to keep cool, to be deemed socially acceptable, and thus to lack clothes forms an inequality, deeply entrenched in society’s discourse.
One’s clothing should form an ability to communicate with society, to display individuality, not as a marker for our social or economic position. Everyone should have access to an adequate supply of clothing. Throughout our lives clothing is vital, from displaying religious sentiments; a Nun’s habit, a Vicar’s clerical collar, or a Muslim’s abaya to significant social occasions; wedding dresses, christening outfits, and prom garments.
Other qualities informed through our dress is our favourite sports teams, one’s personality, and our career. Clothing is an intrinsic part of who we are, and what makes each of us different. But for a homeless person clothing doesn’t become about choice, but necessity, everything they own has to be with them at all times, if not it can be at risk of being damaged or stolen, stolen by someone equally as desperate for the basic need of garments.
As a homeless person autonomy is often diminished by one’s social, economic, and political position in society, with choice and independence typically reduced by reliance on others for help, and support. This is where Clothing Collective is different, unique in its stance as it tackles clothing poverty. As we work with charity shops to provide essential clothing for those in need, through raising much needed financial funds that allow vouchers to be issued to those that most require our help. These vouchers are then distributed to people in need by our partner food banks, night shelters and other support services and allow them to be exchanged for second-hand garments, a new outfit that can help someone stay dry, warm, and secure. Clothing doesn’t just aid someone’s physical health but also mental health.
But what is unique is that this isn’t just about donating directly to someone in need but our relationship to charity shops, with the key being ‘shop’. This system is centred on choice, we don’t just provide essentials but we give people independence to choose for themselves. To decide their style, empowering those who are too often reduced by society. Why not donate to Clothing Collective, not only would you be providing someone with vital supplies but importantly you will empower those with the ability to choose, re-installing their autonomy through the simple but so rewarding act of giving.
To help those in need, you can make donations to the Clothing Collective [here]