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Brief Published: 30 Oct 2018

Capsule Wardrobe Empowers Women Fleeing Abuse


New Scottish start-up ALICAS gifts surplus clothing items to women fleeing abuse –empowering them to start rebuilding their lives without feeling self-conscious about their appearance. While providing essential clothing and dignity for survivors, the scheme also provides retailers with a novel way of recycling unsold stock.

Many women who flee abuse are unable to take the majority of their possessions with them, including their clothing. ALICAS presents survivors with a bespoke parcel comprising a 30-piece capsule wardrobe in the appropriate size and style for the recipient, including basics such as hosiery and underwear. The branding and packaging is styled after luxury collections, and each package includes a handwritten note of support.

ALICAS encourages public donations of unworn clothing to help create the boxes, but has also campaigned for retail outlets to donate their unsold stock. Earlier this year, Burberry came under fire when it was discovered that it had destroyed £28.6m ($37m) worth of unsold goods, drawing consumer attention to this widespread practice in the fashion industry (Burberry, 2018).

Between 2016-17, 60% of referrals to women's refuges were declined, typically owing to a lack of available space (Women's Aid, 2018). As funding from local authorities continues to diminish in this sector, more schemes will surely follow ALICAS's example of providing practical resources for people in need. For more on positive social initiatives, see our recent Brief post.

As consumers grow more concerned about the ethical and environmental credentials of the businesses they shop with, companies will need to align their practices with their consumers' ethos, or risk becoming obsolete. Stylus recently explored resale and recycling enterprises in Liquid Retail: Pause & Pulsate and Reframing Sustainability.