“Upcycling” is the act of taking waste materials and other things that are no longer in use and turning them into things with value, reusing them and recycling them. A new initiative has commenced at UNIQLO under which we use denim and other waste fabric that is left over after hemming is performed at stores to bring forth things that have value.
Refugee Empowerment Project
UNIQLO empowers refugees to take control of their own future. In 2018, we established the Self-Reliance and Livelihood Project in five countries in Asia (India, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, and Pakistan) with the UNHCR. The program helps refugees gain economic independence through vocational training such as sewing technology and information technology, management training to encourage entrepreneurship, and working from home.
UNIQLO not only supports refugees with clothes, but also self reliance programs. In 2016, we committed US$10 million over a three year period in support of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) activites. US$5.5 million will go to self-reliance support programs.One example is a vocational training program to improve sewing skills.
2017 UNIQLO UPCYCLING
2016 Olympia Le-Tan Tote Bags
In collaboration with the French luxury brand Olympia Le-Tan, UNIQLO implemented a project in which we requested refugee women to do embroidery work for emblems to be affixed to tote bags. All two thousand of those bags, which were released in limited quantities, sold out, with all of the resulting proceeds used to support the self-reliance of refugees through UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Olympia Le-Tan I want to keep doing what I can as a designer
Designer Olympia Le-Tan said that participation in this project provided her with a major insight. "I decided to work with UNIQLO because I learned that it actively works with UNHCR to support refugees, such as by providing support for the clothing and employment of refugees. If they master the skills which help them find a job and become independent in the future as a result of this project, I will be more than happy. I turned my eyes to the world and worked with people in regions where the handicraft traditions have been kept alive, such as the embroidery in India and knitting in Bolivia. However I didn't have any idea about how to create pieces together with refugees. I tried it this time in collaboration with UNIQLO, and found the experience to be amazing. Now I do what I can as a designer. If I can create beautiful dresses that make people happy, I'll keep doing that."