The fashion industry is one of many affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Big clothing brands have pulled out on orders with their garment factories, leaving thousands without payment and tonnes of clothing with nowhere to go. Until now. Lost Stock are an organisation who’ve found a way to rehome these ‘lost stock’ items. Not only that, but every box sold helps support a garment worker for a week.
Lost Stock is an online service set up by Mallzee – a free shopping app. They’re a start-up Edinburgh-based business who have partnered with the SAJIDA Foundation to bring Lost Stock to life.
But there’s a lot of scepticism surrounding Lost Stock because of this. Mallzee stocks hundreds of fast fashion brands on their platform, and continues to stock the brands who were guilty of not paying their garment workers. So a lot of the problem is the fact that they seem to be playing both sides of the game.
On one hand, they’re doing seemingly great things with Lost Stock. On the other, they’re continuing to contribute towards the fast fashion industry and contributing towards a wider problem.
SAJIDA are a Bangladesh-based non-profit organisation who provide various financial services, developmental programmes and help socially responsible businesses. Their mission statement is “health, happiness, and dignity for all”. During the pandemic, SAJIDA have provided 50,000 households with food and hygiene packages, distributed over 18,000 sets of PPE, and installed 475 portable hand washing devices.
Personally, I chose to purchase a box. It seems like a great concept altogether; a brilliant way of being able to support a garment worker in addition to stopping clothing items from going to landfill unnecessarily.
Had I looked more into the parent company, Mallzee, I probably would’ve thought twice about placing my order. It looks innocent enough on the surface, and the Lost Stock is fairly transparent about where the money is going. But it does make me a little suspicious to find out it’s run by a business built upon the fast fashion model.
I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to approach this situation, but I think it’s important to stay informed. Nothing is ever what it seems.
After ordering my Lost Stock box I began getting concerned that it was… well, lost! It didn’t arrive until early August, despite the fact I ordered it months prior. I understand a slight delay with the pandemic etc but it still didn’t add up to me, especially when there were no email updates until late July. So a lot of my experience was just being worried I’d paid £35 for an imaginary product.
When it arrived, I was disappointed. It wasn’t a box as advertised, but a plastic mailer bag filled with smaller plastic mailer bags of individual clothing items. Which I’m assuming, are pretty difficult if not completely non recyclable.
As for the clothing, it absolutely wasn’t what I’d anticipated. While Lost Stock claim to pick based on a style quiz, it all seems very generic to me. Based on the fact that I saw almost 5 bloggers receive the exact same three items as me, it seems they have 2 or 3 ‘sets’ that they send out based on a vague description.
More to the point, all original clothing labels were replaced with their own bespoke Lost Stock labels. This might not seem like a huge problem at first glance but it kind of defeats the point. We’re supposed to be demanding that brands “pay up” and pay their garment workers what they owe, rather than mass cancelling orders and leaving them in the lurch.
Since Mallzee, the parent company of Lost Stock, work with a lot of the brands refusing to “pay up” it can be assumed that this was done to keep them on side. Mallzee didn’t want to start a fire in their own back garden, presumably.
Since receiving a lot of backlash, their website buying options have been updated. Their original box didn’t outline the amount of items you’d receive, but gave a brief “you’ll receive an amount of items to the value of what you pay”. Okay, fair enough.
There were three graphic tees in my ‘box’. Two white with navy stripes, the differentiating factor being that one had floral detail and a tie front while the other was a classic boxy tee. The third item was a ruffle detail blue top with white stripes. None of which I felt matched the description I’d provided in their style quiz.
Lost Stock are seemingly very transparent about their pricing breakdown. This was a bonus for me, as I was feeling sceptical anyway, but it still leaves questions. *I’d also like to point out I can no longer find this on the Lost Stock website, whereas it was originally fairly easy to locate.
The diagram shows that ~37-38% of the £35 are donated to the SAJIDA Foundation.
Despite all of the scepticism around their first batch of boxes, Lost Stock are now taking orders for Autumn and Winter style boxes. These are around the £40 mark, and has raised quite a few eyebrows.
Items received in the Lost Stock boxes have been seen listed on fast fashion websites such as Matalan. Therefore raising questions about the legitimacy of Lost Stock. If they really are selling “dead stock” items that have been dumped by these brands, why are they for sale in Matalan?
Not only that, but the prices they’re selling at don’t match the value paid to Lost Stock. You pay Lost Stock £35, therefore it can be assumed you’re getting items to the value of £10~ each if you receive 3 items. But the prices for the same garments on the retailer websites are as low as £6… so what’s going on?
It’s also worth noting that their website originally promised clothing to the value of £70 would be in this £35 ‘box’. They’ve since changed the wording on their website, which I find to be a bit crafty.
While I don’t have all the answers, it just seems a bit odd to me. Looking back, I’d have preferred to just donate the full £35 I paid straight to a charitable organisation like the SAJIDA Foundation.
Do I think Lost Stock was a great idea? Yes.
Was I happy with my Lost Stock order? No.
Have I kept any of my items? The striped boxy fit tee.
Will I buy from them again? Absolutely not.
Do I think Lost Stock is a scam? Unsure.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.