So a few months back I made a post and video all about Lost Stock box, what it was, why it existed, and why I was a bit sceptical about it (though hopeful for its potential). Well, it's been a few months now and people have started to receive the first batch of boxes and... it's not going well. So today we're talking about that, and the ethics and sustainability of it all, because that's what we do on this blog.

If you're not sure what the Lost Stock Box is, I have a full rundown here, but basically Lost stock buy cancelled orders from factories, and donate money from sold boxes to the SAJIDA foundation helping garment workers in Bangladesh. The consumer get's "£70 of clothing for £35" and it keeps clothes out of landfill. Seems great!

Now I know many people before wanted me to buy and review a box, but after much deliberation I decided I really didn't need the clothes and decided instead to donate directly to SAJIDA along with some other organisations and charities directly helping garment workers. And boy am I glad I did, this has not gone to plan.

Let's start with the good
 In my search through twitter for people's opinions on their boxes I did find people that were happy, happy to get some summery clothes and help a good cause in the mean time, and I am happy for them! They wanted airy, light, summery clothes and that's what they got.

But a lot of people were not so happy.

A few Reviews
Besma from Curiously Consious
Besma is a friend of mine who runs a blog talking sustainable living and fashion. She ordered her box in early march and received it last week (early August). Her preferences were
Size: Small, Age: 25-30, Colours: Neutrals, Pattern: None, Fit + Style: Regular.

She received, a white vest top that was practically see through, a teal strap top, a linen green strap top, and a patterned A-Line dress. She only really liked the linen top, and was unhappy that the clothes didn't fit her size preferences, plus she said she wanted plain items and received something patterned

She also stated that she's worried that if 112,000+ other people who ordered a box also didn't like 3/4 items this could mean things just end up in Landfill, which I am with her on.

Read her full review here

Elly from Take It Up Wear it Out
Elly wrote a breif review on her Twitter, mainly focused on the fact that the labels had been taken out, taking accountability away from brands involvesd.

She recieved the same see through vest top and a-line dres as Besma, as well as .... She liked the dress (it's definitely her style) and... She was annoyed because she found the Yellow top

Aly from Psycho Traveller
Aly asked for darks in her box, and this is not what she received the same white vest top that Besma and Ely did, the same yellow Matalan top that Ellly did, a white cami, and a red slip dress which was apparently basically see through.

Aly was disappointed for many reasons: because the clothes were thin, and not something she would chose to wear, didn't fit her preference, and were also not worth the £70 advertised. She also went on to point out the guilt tripping on the returns policy, and Lost Stock trying to secure their bottom line, which I will get into in a little bit.

RRP £70?
There are a LOT of people on social media talking about how they're not happy with their package, in the first couple of batches everyone seems to have received a few of the same twenty or so items, all of which are pretty low quality, a fair few of which are from Matalan, most of which are not worth the £70 for all the items.

Gemma on twitter  found all of the items from her box on the Matalan website, worth £33.50, which is less than she actually paid for the box, and that she recommends donating money straight to charity; especially as only £10 from the box goes to the garment workers.

I've seen several people saying they wish they'd just sent money straight to charity, rather than buying a box, and honestly I can't blame them.

Due to this mess, and a lot of people getting clothes they're simply never going to wear, they've been looking for refunds... but Lost Stock are very quick to try to guilt trip people out of getting them. When you first see anything about refunds it says:

Wait so Lost Stock market this as a wonder product, of guilt free, sustainable, shopping but now they haven't delivered what was promised and people want a refund it's "time to consider the environment'? I mean yes, the culture around returns as a whole does need to shift but this is you trying to absolve responsibility for the fact you haven't delivered on your promise.

Then when you get further into looking for a refund they say:

Yet more guilt tripping, yet when I look further it turns out:

So they money for the SAJIDA Foundation has already gone, you can't get that back, the only thing you will get refunded is the money that went directly to lost stock. They're guilt tripping you to protect their bottom line, not their NGO. So wrong.

Lost stock are responding to all tweets saying they'll try and sort things out with customers but still.

Now, I understand why everyone is annoyed at lost stock, I truly do, that marketed promises that they couldn't keep and now they're trying to guilt trip people into not returning clothes. But I think a lot of the energy is going into calling lost stock box out and I see none of it going to brands like Matalan who's clothes are actually in the boxes.

Brands like Matalan, Topshop, Primark,  are the reason these boxes exist in the first place. They decided they didn't want to pay their suppliers and essentially left already vulnerable garment workers for dead, no protection from COVID, no money to pay for food or rent. And with the labels being taken out of the clothes most of these brands completely dodge responsibility.

So as consumers I think it's important to keep holding the brands accountable, by joining campaigns like #PayUp, and boycotting fast fashion wherever possible. They caused this.

As I said earlier, this box was touted as guilt free shopping, sustainable, a way to keep clothing out of landfill and support garment workers. But now that thousands of people are receiving clothes they definitely didn't want? How much of that is going to end up in landfill, just with a few more air miles?

This was always going to be something of an issue with a mystery box, but Lost Stock asking people what their preferences for clothing were made it seem like this would at least be slightly mitigated. But no, with thousands of the same pieces of clothing ending up in hands that don't want them, they're going to be dumped into charity shops where they won't all get sold (especially if these charity shops are getting a lot of the same items) and will probably end up in a landfill in Ghana or some other country in the global south after being send there as a "charitable donation". Still in Landfill, it's just taken longer to get there.

You as a consumer (though I hate that this again puts the responsibility on the consumer to clean up this mess) can, instead of donating clothes straight to charity shops, swap them with friends or an online swapping service, or find a way to up-cycle them before considering charity shopping them; especially if they're low quality

Also, on an aside cause I know this is industry standard but: SO. MUCH. PLASTIC!

What can you do now?
Whether or not you've ordered a box, there are things you can do to try and minimise this mess, and to try and make sure something like this does not happen again:

Basically, this turned into a mess, I was already sceptical about it when I talked in my last post, but hoped for the best. This was not the best. I am happy to see that Lost Stock are now starting to answer people's questions,  but I still have a lot of questions and would like to see more concrete transparency from them going forward.

This should never have happened in the first place. The whole industry needs to change.

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