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Clothing the world, one t-shirt at a time

Mallory Brown of World Clothes Line.Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with some inspiring young women who are doing amazing things in Detroit. From Emily Doerr, the energy and passion behind the Hostel Detroit, to Chrissie Bingham, one of the leaders of the Detroit Fire Guild, and now Mallory Brown. Through her company, World Clothes Line, she aspires to clothe the world, one village at a time.

World Clothes Line (WCL) isn’t your normal clothing company. “WCL is an apparel company with a philanthropic mission, which is to clothe the world. Every time someone buys an item off of our site we match it with a second item that we give to someone in need,” explains Brown.

If you buy a t-shirt, WCL will send you one and they will personally deliver the same to someone in need. Toms Shoes are the most well known company using this model. “They are such an inspiration. They started the one-for-one movement, matching what people purchase. A lot of companies have taken that and ran with it, even if it’s in a small way”, says Brown.

There’s a connection between the customer and the recipient. You give what you want in return.

Brown, 24 of Farmington Hills, started WCL in September of 2010 and has already delivered brand new clothes to people in need in downtown Detroit and a remote village in Peru. All of the WCL merchandise is screen printed by Ann Arbor-based,

Inspired by her travels after graduating from Albion College in 2008, Brown noticed the need for clothes. When looking to help impoverished people, the first thoughts always go to food and water but the people Brown encountered were in need of clothes.

“Statistically, most people in the world have clothes, people aren’t running around naked so it’s not a need that you can easily see. But when you look at someone in an impoverished village you can’t tell how long they have been wearing that outfit,” said Brown. Some wear the same clothes for days, weeks and even months, “it loses its function as clothing and it’s not protecting you anymore.”

World Clothes Line delivered the first batch of clothes to people in Detroit this past February to two groups, Young Detroit Builders and a homeless BBQ set up by many different churches in the Detroit area.

The Young Detroit Builders are a group of 18-24 year olds who have enrolled in a program to get their GED, get their life of track and learn some basic construction skills. “They’re young people, my age. I was able to spend an afternoon with them and tell them about WCL and include them in my mission,” said Brown.

For the homeless BBQ in Cass Corridor, WCL was a Valentines Day edition. The people came for a free meal and also received a new outfit. The homeless usually are given used clothes through different charities so they appreciated the new clothes. Brown told me, “What struck the people the most was that they were brand new and made in the U.S., it was a gift to them.”

Many of the men in Detroit asked for women’s clothes so that they could give them to their wives or girlfriends. “That was wonderful because you allowed this person to give a gift and maybe they haven’t done that in a long time.”

Brown and her World Clothes Line team wrapped up their second delivery to Peru in March. Brown recalls the trip, “The Peru trip was crazy. I didn’t realize it was landslide season in Peru but it was. You can’t really prepare yourself for natural disasters.”

Not only did her team run into many landslides but the village they were heading to was hit by a major landslide the week before, “The entire village was wiped away. They lost everything and they were staying in a refuge camp. We made it to the refugee camp and all of the families were there. A lot of them had lost the father figure in the landslide so it was mainly women and children. They all received new clothes.”

Although the villagers received help from the Peruvian government, WCL was the first foreign aid to reach them. At first they were confused by who their visitors were but that soon subsided. “When they realized that we were giving them clothes they were so grateful. Every person in the village came up to hug me and kiss me and thank us.”

Brown and WCL are headed to Indonesia in the fall where the goal is to clothe an entire island of 400 people, their most ambitious undertaking yet. And after that? The rest of the world! Brown is concentrating first on countries that she’s previously visited and then will expand to other areas of the world. Africa is high on her list.

It really just proves that age doesn’t matter; anyone can make a difference in the world, one village and one t-shirt, at a time.

Photo credit: Jimmy Tomczak

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Reader Comments (3)

Becks, thanks for posting this and making more people aware of the awesome work Mallory and the WCL team are doing. Love it!

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Reyes

What a great thing to do. It is true about people in need of clothing. I went to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip back in January and most of the people we worked with wore the same clothes multiple days in a row. I left my new work boots with one of the guys who had shoes that were nearly falling apart on his feet.

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Patrick & Andrew,
Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. I love what Mallory is doing.
So great of you to leave your work boots!

May 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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