Every year tons of T-shirts are donated to American welfare organisations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Many of these garments are still in an excellent condition when they are discarded.
The bulk of these T-shirts are not traded on the American second-hand market but sold to “T-shirt middlemen” in developing countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Costs Rica and Haiti. Here the middlemen sell the T-shirts to local customers.
Project Repat saw a gap in this value chain and decided to partner with artisans and small businesses in Nairobi, Kenya, to upcycle the discarded T-shirts into new products to sell back to American customers.
A non-profit organisation, Project Repat was started by Sean Hewens and Ross Lohr. The project works by commissioning artisans in Nairobi to create exciting new products from the fabric of the old T-shirts.
The T-shirts that are upcycled into scarves and skirts are then shipped back to the USA where they are sold back to customers in search of something trendy, unconventional and socially uplifting. All profits raised from the sale of the converted T-shirts are repatriated back to a non-profit organisation in the country where it was upcycled.