January marks the start of Spring cleaning – you know, that annual tradition when we meticulously sift through our closets, creating space for the imminent surge of new clothes that not only signifies the beginning of the new fashion season but also anticipates the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities. Should you be contemplating donating your long-forgotten garments and accessories to The Salvation Army, it might be prudent to pump the brakes.
Numerous news reports have consistently highlighted how the organisation is inundated with donations during festive periods like Christmas season, transforming it into a de facto repository for unwanted and damaged goods. A report from seven years ago even disclosed that a meagre 8 per cent to 10 per cent of the clothes donated to The Salvation Army ever find their way to its sales floor. Luckily, we’ve curated a list of alternative venues where you can divest yourself of your pre-loved threads and accessories. What ties them all together: each of these places comes with a do-good factor.
What is it: An initiative by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, New2U encourages customers to steer away from fast fashion brands and embrace circular fashion.
When it started: May 2000
Its USP:New2U holds regular pop-up bazaars, and if you’re lucky, you might find designer labels such as Celine and Kate Spade.
The do-good factor: Proceeds from the store go towards SCWO initiatives, such as the Star Shelter, Singapore’s only secular shelter dedicated to protecting women and children survivors of family violence.
What it accepts: Bags, jewellery, working watches, figurines, collectibles, toys and board games, kitchenware, and home decor. Due to the high volume, New2U is temporarily not accepting clothing. Check its website or Instagram for the latest updates.
What it doesn’t accept: Furniture, soft toys and electrical appliances.
Where to drop off your clothes: SSCWO Centre (96 Waterloo Street) is open from Monday to Friday, 10:30am to 2:30pm, and every fourth Sunday of the month, 11am to 2pm. Due to space constraints, they can only accept two bags/boxes of donations per person.
What is it: The Fashion Pulpit is a social enterprise that encourages consumers to extend the lifespan of fashion items and minimize textile waste through clothes swapping.
When it started: Founded in 2018 by Raye Padit, a former bespoke fashion designer.
Its USP: Apart from being one of the earliest fashion-swapping platforms here, The Fashion Pulpit also provides mending and upcycling services. While you’re encouraged to swap, feel free to just buy anything that catches your eye.
The do-good factor: The Fashion Pulpit team publishes open-source materials on fashion sustainability, such as its first-ever impact report and wardrobe study, to promote socio-environmental education and awareness in the field of fashion.
What it accepts: Clothing of any size, brand and style, as well as accessories, bags, and shoes in good condition.
What it doesn’t accept: For hygiene reasons, it does not accept undergarments, swimwear, sportswear, earrings (unless they’re brand new with tags), socks, any organizational items, hosiery and costumes.
Where to drop off your clothes: The Fashion Pulpit is located at #02-08 OUE Downtown Gallery. It opens from Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 7pm daily, and is closed on Mondays and public holidays.
What is it: Kloth Circularity is an entirely women-led social enterprise that aspires to catalyze the textiles, clothing, and plastics circular economy in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
When it started: December 2013
Its USP: Besides apparel, Kloth Circularity also collects and recycles loose plastic bottles, converting them into textiles and clothing, which they sell mainly to corporate customers. Keep an eye on its Instagram for cool upcycled creations that you can purchase.
The do-good factor: Its Kloth Woman Up movement creates job opportunities for women, especially those from vulnerable communities. It has collaborated with community colleges that have trained single mothers with creative sewing and upcycling skills and worked with The Body Shop and Coca-Cola to create accessories like staff aprons, scarves, and reusable masks.
What it accepts: Clothes for all genders, women’s underwear, accessories, footwear, bags, household textiles, children’s toys, and fabric remnants (at least 1m long). Refer to this post for more details.
What it doesn’t accept: Soiled and wet items, furniture, electrical appliances, fabric remnants less than 1 metre in size, shredded clothing, racks and mattresses.
Where to drop off your clothes: At any Kloth bins at various locations islandwide – refer to this map to find the nearest one.
What is it: The Barn is a volunteer-run thrift shop, started by Cornerstone Community Services. Pre-loved goods are donated by the public and sold back to the community at an affordable price.
When it started: March 2013
Its USP: The Barn’s recently launched Bespoke collection on Carousell is a haven for shoppers, featuring chic luxury pieces priced affordably from $50. Expect brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and more!
The do-good factor: All proceeds go to welfare and wellness services run by Cornerstone Community Services, such as its food care and youth mentoring programmes, for vulnerable groups.
What it accepts: Clothes for all genders, accessories, shoes, and sports equipment (small to medium-sized). The Barn is currently in need of more men’s clothes and accessories. Refer to the complete list here.
What it doesn’t accept: Children’s clothes, big and bulky items, used undergarments, linen, and soft toys. Refer to the complete list here.
Where to drop off your clothes: At any of The Barn locations: #01-11/12 The Odeon Katong, Blk 591A Ang Mo Kio Street 5 and 27 Penjuru Walk.
What is it: ItsRainingRaincoats is a local charity that aims to build bridges between migrant workers and Singapore residents by improving migrant worker welfare.
When it started: Founded in 2015 by Dipa Swaminathan, a lawyer who had been assisting the migrant community in her personal capacity before founding the charity.
Its USP: On top of donation drives, ItsRainingRaincoats is also known for its Makan with Migrant Workers programme, where Singapore residents can host migrant workers in their homes for a meal. There’s no better way to build connections than over a warm meal.
The do-good factor: ItsRainingRaincoats runs various initiatives geared towards migrant worker safety and welfare, such as English classes, donation drives for safety shoes, and laptop collection drives to help migrant workers in upskilling.
What it accepts: Men’s clothing and toiletries, luggage, home linen, electrical appliances, sports equipment, and bicycles. Please ensure that all items are in pristine condition. Refer to its website for more details.
What it doesn’t accept: Undergarments, women’s and children’s clothing, apparel with school logos, and items with political and religious designs.
Where to drop off your clothes: Drop-off points are located in the west, central, and east areas of Singapore. Refer to its website for more detailed instructions.
What is it: Re-store is a social enterprise that promotes sustainability through upcycling textiles into well-designed bags and accessories.
When it started: Founded in November 2020 by sisters Karen and Veronica Teo, along with Karen’s daughter, Claudia Yong.
Its USP: Re-store upcycles textiles such as denim and premium upholstery, all sourced within Singapore, to create everyday bags and accessories that complement any outfit. Visit its online shop to view their collections – there’s even one for pets.
The do-good factor: Re-store teams up with social workers and community centres to employ women in marginalised communities. It also offers its seamstresses flexible work arrangements to accommodate their various physical and social needs.
Where to drop off your clothes: Contact Re-store via IG DM or e-mail (email@example.com) to arrange your drop off in advance.
What it accepts: Re-store is now calling for denim donations, such as jackets, button shirts, dresses, and bottoms, in larger sizes. Offcuts from other brands are also welcome.
What it doesn’t accept: Shorts, T-shirts, mini skirts, and any clothing in XS or S sizes (because Re-store needs larger cuts of clothing.)
What is it: A textile recycling service that aims to give textiles a second life and promote the 3 R’s we grew up learning – reduce, reuse, and recycle.
When it started: 2017
Its USP: Greensquare has a clear ambition – to double the percentage of recycled textiles by 2030. It also sells collected recyclables to secondhand textile importers in developing countries to continue providing free collection services and outreach programs.
The do-good factor: Greensquare conducts all recycling programs in schools for free, including those at Yale-NUS and Victoria Junior College.
What it accepts: Clean and wearable clothes, shoes, accessories, and laundered household linen.
What it doesn’t accept: Toys, soft toys, fabric, books, kitchenware, used undergarments, used socks, pillows, comforters, and stationery.
Where to drop off your clothes: Greensquare has multiple collection points islandwide. You may refer to its website for the list of locations and to schedule a collection.
What is it: A social enterprise founded by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) that provides good, affordable, and quality thrifting to customers.
When it started: September 2019
Its USP: Besides selling quality goods at affordable prices, SSVP Shop also has an ‘Upcycled with Love’ arm where volunteers handcraft and upcycle donated items, such as turning men’s ties into belts. Visit its shop at 501 Geylang Road to check out what’s in-store.
The do-good factor: SSVP Shop’s net proceeds go to the Society of St. Vincent De Paul’s community welfare programmes for 3,000 low-income and disadvantaged beneficiaries, supporting its mission of giving them a better life and future.
What it accepts: Bags (except laptop bags), small leather goods (wallets, pouches, clutches), accessories (jewellery, watches, belts, etc.). SSVP Shop is temporarily not accepting apparel. Due to space constraints, the shop is only taking in two shopping bags of donations per person. Refer to its website for the latest updates.
What it doesn’t accept: Bulky items, shoes, books, stuffed toys, or any soiled, broken and faulty items.
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