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How HoMie turned Champion’s old samples into collectors’ items

Melbourne-based streetwear brand HoMie and iconic athletic apparel-maker Champion are collaborating on another capsule collection of upcycled garments after the first drop sold out in less than 20 minutes earlier this month.

The next collection is expected to launch at the end of June, and, like the first drop, it will be entirely composed of bespoke hoodies, t-shirts and other garments made from old Champion samples.

“The response has been really overwhelming,” HoMie co-founder Nick Pearce told Inside Retail. “The exposure we’ve received in international publications has been amazing.”

The collection is part of HoMie’s broader Reborn range, which the brand launched at the end of 2019 to reduce its environmental impact. All items in the range are made from pre-loved clothing and second-hand materials.

In the case of the Champion collection, HoMie’s design team mixed and matched old samples to create colourful new hoodies and used embroidery, bleach and other effects to put the brand’s edgy aesthetic stamp on them.

On the one hand, the collection’s success is evidence of consumers’ growing interest in circular fashion. And retailers such as Elk the Label and The Iconic have also started talking about selling worn clothes to customers in future.

“There’s a real hunger for the ability to buy things that deliver sustainable solutions. That’s the overarching hygiene benefit of this type of initiative,” Jo Holding, divisional manager of Champion, which is part of HanesBrands Australasia, told Inside Retail.

But there’s another factor at play. The items in HoMie’s Reborn range are one-offs by nature, so there’s an element of exclusivity to the collection, too.

“What you’re buying is completely individual [and that’s why] it’s having such cut-through,” Holding said, noting that the Reborn x Champion items sell for twice the price of a standard Champion hoodie.

An appetite for sustainability

The collaboration with HoMie is just one of the ways Champion is making its business more sustainable in Australia. In August, the brand plans to launch a new range of reverse weave hoodies made out of recycled cotton.

“Champion is a very cotton-centric brand, and this will be the first time that we’re testing the waters with a fully recycled cotton garment,” Holding said.

The range will be made out of the manufacturing scraps of previous reverse weave hoodie ranges, but Holding said the ultimate vision will be to give customers a place to return old hoodies and use them to make new ones.

“We talk about product lifecycles, where there’s a start and an end. We need to be thinking about the product life circle, about how long the items we create can last,” she said.

While Holding acknowledged that reselling used goods is a big change for brands conditioned to meet the demand for newness, she is convinced there’s a customer for it.

“One thing we’ve learned from the Reborn x Champion collection is that, yes, there’s an appetite for it,” she said. “The other is that there are different ways to do it…there isn’t a right solution for every brand, but you need to show people you’re trying and learning.”

Champion provided all of the samples for the Reborn collaboration to HoMie for free, and HoMie will use 100 per cent of the profits to support young people affected by homelessness through its social impact programs.

These include its monthly VIP Shopping Days, where young people affected by homelessness are welcomed into HoMie’s store in Melbourne to shop complimentary brand-new HoMie products and receive beauty services and lunch with the team.

It also runs an accredited retail training and education paid internship to help young people affected by homelessness to overcome employment barriers. Champion’s parent company HanesBrands Australasia is among the major retailers that support the program.

HoMie has continued providing these services in an altered form throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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