Thursday, May 07, 2015

#Oxclusive Event With Oxfam

You all know about Oxfam’s high street shops right? But did you know they also have an online shop? And that the hub of the online arm is situated just south of Leeds? No, neither did I and I live in area!

Last Thursday a group of bloggers were invited to Oxfam’s Wastesaver centre to find out more about what happens behind the scenes of the shops and what happens to all the donated clothes that don’t get sold. And it was fascinating.

The outside of the warehouse unit - it's big!

First of all we were taken on a tour of the massive warehouse. The Wastesaver site receives clothing that hasn’t been sold in Oxfam’s regular shops, along with items from corporate partners such as Marks and Spencer, Next and Sainsbury’s. They estimate that the staff there sort through 19,000 garments a day.

The sorting lines 

The best things are taken to be sold on Oxfam’s online shop, some items are sold overseas in countries such as Senegal so that traders there can sell the clothes on via their own market stalls and make a living for themselves (a big part of Oxfam’s work overseas is to support sustainable living). Other items are sold to be shredded 1000s of times and used as mattress filling. Only the soiled and unusable items are sent to an incinerator. Everything is used or recycled if at all possible.

Garments waiting to be sent for shredding for mattress filling

Oxfam also has an Etsy store, which is a fairly new initiative, and that stocks fabric pieces, packs of damaged or stained cashmere sweaters (to be used for craft projects) and upcycled clothing, such as the cashmere sweater with the lace insert you see in the photo below.

An example of the wares in the Etsy shop

As you can see, there is masses of stuff – the green boxes alone house all the shoes and handbags that are waiting to be listed on the online shop.

Shoes and handbags for listing online - they wouldn't let us rummage in those boxes!

 The online shop currently has around 6000 items listed and includes everything from bridal gowns to leather jackets, so if you’re looking for something specific then check it out. I was particularly taken with the Louboutin’s on the shoe wall…

The online store staff includes stylists, seamstresses, people who are good with numbers – and there are lots of volunteers involved. The store is mostly contemporary womenswear but there is a selection of vintage and some menswear too. All the photography is done by volunteers.

The Wastesaver site also houses the Festivals’ Team, who take a selection of clothing items and set up a stall at various festivals around the country each summer. They tailor the collection to the specific market at each event so look out for them if you’re off to Glastonbury or another festival this year. The festivals alone net Oxfam around £250,000 per summer.

The festivals area

Everywhere we went on our tour of the warehouse there was something to see. This is the 1970s inspiration wall:

Once the tour of the warehouse was complete we sat down to watch a fashion show. The staff at the Oxfam site had put together a selection of catwalk inspired looks using the items available to them from the warehouse, such as a denim theme and 1970s.

After that, like any good blogger event, we were given tea and cupcakes and had a chance to chat with the people we’d met and ask any questions. 

Tea and cupcakes!

There was also a pop up shop with a few rails of clothing that were able to purchase from.

The pop up shop - I almost bought the green suede jacket

I’d taken a few items to donate at the beginning of the event so I’d been given a voucher to spend in the shop, and I bagged myself this Superdry hoodie which has barely left my back since, it’s so warm and cosy.

We were each given a little goodie bag which contained some fabric swatches, and some information about Oxfam, and we were invited to choose a pair of sunglasses each from a selection that had been donated by the corporate partners.

Sunglasses I chose as my thank you gift

All in all it was a great afternoon – a lovely opportunity to meet some bloggers from the Yorkshire area and a really interesting look into the behind the scenes activities at Oxfam. I’d like to thank all the staff at the Oxfam Wastesaver site for inviting us along and for their kind hospitality.

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1 comment:

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