Posts Tagged ‘Project Repat’

Urban Outfitters Wishes They Were This Cool

How much do I love this new company that just launched last week? Project Repat repatriates donated t-shirts from foreign nations in a way that brings hipster cool home and does good where they had been. If these threads could talk, and tell you what they’ve seen…we all know what it’s like to do a little spring cleaning of our closets/wardrobe and fill up a Hefty bag with the duds we once thought were cool, but don’t seem that way any more, or have gotten a little tight, or were a way-off-target gift from Aunt Marge. Those clothes go to our charity of choice, and in the case of the huge super charities, like Goodwill or Salvation Army, only a very few make it into their thrift stores or go the clothe their clients here in the United States (and having had a summer job many years ago with the Salvation Army, I know–after tons and tons of clothes are picked through for viability–you’d be surprised at the soiled, torn, disgusting things people think it is acceptable to donate–a bunch gets tossed in a hay-bailing machine, becomes giant blocks of fabric, and is incinerated). SO now we’ve got a slice off the top of the best clothes that the charity re-purposes, a much larger slice of unusable crap from the bottom of the heap that is cremated, and all that mass in the middle, that gets shipped off to used clothing markets around the world, and t-shirts with the “Hang in There” kitty or your old high school mascot or the REO Speedwagon tour that came to a state fair near you, end up being sold for about a buck to clothe folks in developing nations.

Project Repat, recognizing the hipster cool factor (that Urban Outfitters tries to screenprint into life with faux campy shirts) and pedigree of a shirt that comes back from somewhere like Dar es Salaam, with Mister Rogers now having some legitimate street cred, is bringin’ them home. Volunteers who are already in these far-flung locales curate a collection of pithy shirts, purchase the cool and ironic ones from the clothing markets overseas, and shove them in their backpacks when they are headed back home. Project Repat then washes them, brands them with a new logo (with the country from which they were liberated and date), and sells them to…well…me, for one. The best part comes last–all the profits are donated to non-profits that support development and cultural preservation in oppressed nations.

It’s been a long time since I have had any personal hipness factor, but I like being ahead of the curve on this one. I think they can be huge–and most importantly, have a huge impact. As one of their marketing messages goes: Your old t-shirt: here again and cooler than you.