I'm sure by now many of you have probably heard of Lost Stock Box, when it was released a few weeks ago I had a message from my friend Mischa asking me if I'd seen it and what I thought about it, the next day it was all over my time line. Since then it's been featured in top magazines, and has sold in its thousands.

But I still want to talk about it, because I'm someone who has been talking about ethical and sustainable fashion for a long time and I want to look into it from that perspective, both the good and the bad.

So stick around to read that, oh no I'm not just going to be singing this box's praises because I have some things to say about its parent company Mallzee too.

Why does the lost stock exist?
As I've talked about many times on this platform, the current pandemic is having a huge, detrimental effect on those working in the garment industry, especially Bangladesh. In Bangladesh alone over $2 Billion worth of orders from big brands were cancelled, with many orders being for clothes that had already been made and were ready to ship.

This meant that factories were out of workers and suddenly already vulnerable garment workers were completely without a job. 84% of Bangladesh's exports are clothing items and so this effected millions of people.

The #PayUp campaign was started to pressure brands into paying their suppliers and safeguarding workers, many have, but some have not. You can get involved here.

But this still leaves the factories of the companies that have not paid up, and that's where lost stock box is trying to help.

What is the lost stock box?
The Lost stock box buys clothes straight from affected factories and sells straight to the consumer in a form of a mystery box. This mystery box contains three or more items of clothing for £35, half the price of what it would have cost you from stores. So you get cheaper clothes, whilst also feeling good about helping garment workers and keeping clothes from landfill.

If you go on to buy a box from their website you do get some choice about the style of clothing you want from the box, such as the colours you like, the size you wear, and your age, so you hopefully at least get pieces that fit and are more your style.

A portion of the Lost Stock Box's money also goes to the SAJIDA Foundation which works throughout Bangladesh and has been on the front lines supporting people from the start of the pandemic, running hospitals, handing out food parcels and PPE, educating people, setting up hand washing stations, and now supporting garment workers.

They're also quite transparent about where their money goes, and it doesn't seem like they're directly many any money out of it so that's a plus. Though I would like to see some more transparency from them in future. Their price breakdowns are as follows:

  • Transaction charge: 3%
  • Staff costs, marketing & returns 9%
  • Production cost 30%
  • Transport and logistics: 9%
  • NGO, SAJIDA Foundation 37%
  • Postage: 12%

So, for an initiative that started pretty quickly, in the middle of a pandemic, I think it's amazing what they've managed to do. They originally had a goal of helping over 50,000 families and have hit over 65,000 now so its gaining traction. But I do have a few issues with their parent company.

left: the #PayUp campaign showing all brands that have and have not paid their supply chains, Arcadia (Topshop) is highlighted. Right: Topshop on the Mallzee app.

What are the issues?
Lost stock box was created by fast fashion app Mallzee. They call themselves the "tinder of fashion" and they're essentially an app where you can browse over 150 fashion brands and easily buy clothes, they have lots of offers on, and are pretty much the epitome of fast fashion.

They also stock a lot of the brands who have been/are still refusing to pay their supply chains and have caused this mess in the first place. Does that seem weird to anyone else? That they're directly supporting the brands who's messes they're also clearing up?

The only brand on Mallzee that still hasn't paid up (as of 28/05/2020) is Topshop, but you can shop all their clothes on the app, no problem. Mallzee also stocks H&M, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, M&S, Nike, Adidas. All brands who at one point weren't paying. I don't think they took them off their app until they paid either. Playing both sides much?

Also this is not the only humanitarian crisis that the fashion industry has caused. This pandemic is making things a lot worse for many garment workers but every day is a humanitarian crisis in a lot of the fashion supply chain, something these brands are directly contributing to. It seems a bit like malzee is only stepping in and helping with something that will make them look really good.

I don't want this to take away completely from the Lost Stock Box, I think it is a good idea, and it's getting funds to those who need it, but I want to see better from Mallzee in the future. If they really care about these garment workers like they say their do they won't keep supporting brands who are responsible for issues within the fashion supply chain.

I mean there's definitely room for a sustainable and ethical brand app like Mallzee, though maybe with less of the sales and pressure to buy. buy, buy.
Should you buy?
If you need some clothes, and you think this mystery box looks cool then I will not stop you buying one! Like I said, I like the initiative, it bypasses the shitty brands and gives money straight to the people who need it. But please don't then go and support the brands who are responsible for this on sites like Malzee. Be the solution, not a part of the problem . If you have an issue with what's happening to garment workers at the moment then I promise you you'll have a problem with what happens to garment workers the rest of the time too, move away from fast fashion my friends!

Also if don't like something in your box, try your hand at altering, upcycling, or swapping your clothes with friends! Get into sustainable fashion that way if you're new to it, nothing needs to go in the bin.

Though if you do want to help garment workers but don't need new clothes, you can just donate directly to the SAJIDA Foundation, or to Traid's garment worker initiative.

I haven't bought a box yet, but I may well do. I'm interested to see if the labels from brands are on them and we can name and shame them, plus I could do with some summer clothes. If you want to see me get one, let me know! I could definitely turn it into a sustainable fashion series if there's a piece I don't like, we could do some upcycling!

What do you think? Are you going to buy a box? Let me know in the comments below.
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