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Designer Spotlight: Project Ropa

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Conscious fashion is a topic that's been on my mind a lot recently and something I think about whenever I'm shopping. Going into the new year you will start to see a shift on the topics I write about and the brands that I highlight on the blog. Social impact fashion brands and eco-friendly brands often go hand and hand, but with so many companies using the one-for-one business model it feels like we tend to look past the fact that many of these companies aren't actually creating socially conscious products or even giving back to their community. 

That's one of the reasons why Project Ropa is such an innovative organization on a mission to do good. We employ people transitioning out of homelessness to upcycle and hand paint on vintage and designer women's clothing. All proceeds go directly back into the non-profit which takes to the streets each week to provide clothing, shoes and hygiene products to people experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area. Our goal is to create a lasting impact on the fight against homelessness.   

* Check out the full interview below and keep reading for a 15% off discount code at the end of the blog.*

What is conscious fashion?

Conscious fashion for me is thinking about what you buy and where those products are from. In addition to that there is a concept called zero-waste fashion which prioritizes used, up-cycled, and recycled materials while minimizing waste in the production process and sustainable fashion. It promotes practices that protect the welfare of all workers and help to maintain healthy, balanced and biodiverse ecosystems so we can all sustain and thrive into the future.  

How can people get involved?

It’s easy! It’s about doing your research on brands and learning about their hiring and manufacturing practices.

What’s important about growing this conscious fashion/shopping moment?

Globally the apparel industry is responsible for 10% of the total carbon output. That’s five times more carbon output than the entire airline industry. Given those stats it’s important to grow this movement to reduce all of that waste. We can all buy less clothing, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing a year. We can all be conscious of the brands we are buying from.  The future of fashion needs to be more about combining the collective energy of an industry that is notoriously innovative and adaptable and using this to stimulate creating a more sustainable and fair world. Support brands knowledgeable about and transparent with their supply chains; and opt for goods made with care to the people, animals and natural environments involved.

What does your organization do?

Project Ropa is a non-profit organization that hires the homeless to help the homeless. Each week we take to the streets of Los Angeles to provides clothing, shoes and hygiene products to individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to all this we started a socially conscious fashion brand that employs people transitioning out of homelessness to upcycle previously donated vintage and designer clothing for resell. All of the proceeds go directly back into the nonprofit.

Why did you start Project Ropa?

I stated Project Ropa because I saw a need. Before Project Ropa the only way homeless people could get clothing was by going to a shelter or an organization. The problem with that were the restrictions that came along with that. It varies per organization, but some don’t allow animals inside, some are men only, some women only, the hours and days are limited. There are a lot of restrictions. With Project Ropa we bring the clothing to people experiencing homelessness, no restrictions.

What is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge that Project Ropa has is access to capital. All of the operations are currently funded through donations and fundraising efforts. So one of the concepts that we had was to create a fashion brand where we could hire people transitioning out of homelessness to upcycle the vintage and designer clothing that is donated to us. They hand paint and bring new life to these pieces which we then sell online and at local markets. We pay them a living wage and provide them with resources to affordable housing, daycare and scholarships to pay for higher education classes. All of the profits from this business go back into the non-profit and help fund our weekly efforts to provide basic necessities to people experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area.

To learn more about Project Ropa and shop the collection visit the website at: https://www.projectropa.org

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