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Upparel will pick up and recycle your old clothing for you

Photography By Supplied

Founded in 2016 by Michael and Tina Elias, Upparel (formerly Manrags) first launched as a subscription service, delivering premium quality socks and underwear in quirky designs and bright colours to men around the world.

Gone were grandad socks in sensible grey and black – men could spruce up their image sporting socks with motifs like whales, toucans and dinosaurs.

A few years after launching their subscription service, something changed. It dawned on the Eliases that our old, unwanted socks are chucked in the bin, contributing to an enormous textile waste problem. No longer willing to contribute to the issue, they decided to use their brand to become a proponent of change in the industry.

“We decided we needed to take responsibility for our product and find solutions, which we did,” Michael Elias explains. “We came up with a reuse and recycle solution for socks and launched it to our community base who loved it.”

Upparel became the world’s first ‘Circular Subscription Club’, partnering with Textile Recyclers Australia in September 2019 to save old and worn socks from landfill. In April, they stepped up further and launched the Clothing Recycling Collection, a textile recycling service that accepts all clothing and shoes from anywhere in Australia.

For $25, participants can have up to ten kilograms of clean textiles collected from their front door and prepared for reuse and recycling. Items still in good nick are sent to one of the charities they partner with like Good360 and Ready Set. Clothes no longer fit for wear might be repurposed for items like tote bags or aprons, or shredded for insulation or stuffing for pet beds.

So far, Upparel have diverted over 70 tonnes of clothing and shoes from landfill and prevented over 300,000 kilograms of greenhouse gasses from reaching our atmosphere. All of this, Elias says, while being financially viable.

The sustainability overhaul and sock recycling initiative saw product sales increase by 220 per cent. It’s motivated Upparel to continue to set the bar and take necessary risks to maximise their overall sustainability.

“We see that advocacy for our brand has quadrupled because when you do the right thing, good things happen. From a business and commercial perspective, it makes so much sense,” Elias says.

The excitement is apparent in Elias’ voice when he speaks of the future, both in terms of Upparel and the possibilities of the sustainability movement, particularly as more businesses and innovators get involved. “We find ourselves in this space where what we’ve done is unique and pioneering, and I’m baffled as to why. I’m not complaining, but over time let’s see 50 of us. Let’s see 100 of us. That’s what’s going to create more opportunity and get more people thinking of solutions.”

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