The UNIFORM Project: a BYGO You Can Believe In
What if you could buy affordable, stylish menswear, they were made in fair-trade conditions and provided jobs to working mothers in Africa, and, what if the impact of your purchase also helped children go to school? And, what if it was as easy as going to Bloomingdales? UNIFORM – a new social enterprise fashion brand is making it that easy.
When Liberian-born, German and American-raised Chid Liberty wanted to start a business, he knew it had to be in Liberia; his roots and heart both led him to want to create jobs and opportunity in the post-conflict country. He launched Liberty & Justice – the first fair trade-certified apparel manufacturer in Africa. And life was good, according to +Acumen, “the brand had two big contracts totaling $40 million in annual revenue, they were retooling the factory and then Ebola. Liberty went from ”getting ready to ship their first half a million dollars worth of product to flying every expat worker out of the country and shuttering their doors for three months.”
Luckily, the entire Liberty & Justice team (300+ employees) survived the outbreak, however the business did not fare so well. With customers hesitant to place new orders, team, factory and excess material from the pre-Ebola orders all ready to go, Liberty did what every entrepreneur worth their salt knows to do – pivot.
Research uncovered both the market potential and social impact of the school uniform business – a $5 million business in Liberia plus, if done successfully and some way to get all students in uniforms and at school – a $15 million potential. So Liberty launched UNIFORM; a fashion brand where products are ethically and fairly made in Africa and each purchase provides a school uniform to a child who could otherwise not attend school.
The brand launched last fall with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that beat its goal by 400% and saw the brand raise $230,059 USD and fund uniforms for 8,000 school kids.
The brand has just launched their menswear capsule collection with long and short sleeve tees, chinos, sweatshirts and the best bomber we’ve seen for the season. The Go Back Give Back men’s pop-up shop can be found at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship, Huntington, San Francisco, Roosevelt Field, Century City, Stanford, Beverly Center, SoHo, Santa Monica, and on www.bloomingdales.com until September 1st. The collection is stylish, functional and affordable, workers win and most of all, students win. And don’t worry if you think your girl will be diving into your closet for these pieces, the women’s capsule collection will launch soon.