Isolation diary: Finding lost stock

Another rose in my garden – Nostalgia, this time

I haven’t bought any clothes at all since going into isolation. Our (albeit temporary) change in shopping habits is having a huge impact on people in the garment trade, which these days are spread around the world, often in the countries least able to support the workers.

So I was intrigued to read about Lost Stock, an initiative of Mallzee, an online shopping app developed by a company based in Edinburgh. They explain:

During lockdown, we learned of the situation in Bangladesh as retailers were rejecting or cancelling the stock they’d ordered from factories abroad. This is catastrophic for workers on the ground in developing countries. They’re being left with no income, and there’s no safety net in place for them. We’re used to solving big problems, and we’re experts in personalisation which makes us uniquely positioned to do something about this awful situation. That’s why we came up with the idea for Lost Stock.

The concept is simple. We use our data wrangling powers, our logistics partners and our network of awesome influencers to create Lost Stock. We match up clothes that retailers are no longer taking with consumers who are looking for a great deal but also want to do something positive to help factory workers and avoid clothes going to landfill.

The concept is simple – customers in the UK order a mystery box for £35 (plus £3.99 delivery) which will contain three tops or shirts. The contents will be worth, in total, at least double that amount.

By working with an NGO – the Sajida Foundation – in Bangladesh, the purchase of each box from Lost Stock will support one worker for a week. Their original aim was to sell 10,000 boxes over the next few weeks. In fact they have already sold over 70,000. The orders are forwarded to Bangladesh, where the boxes are filled and shipped.

This sounds like a wonderful social enterprise, but I did the usual fact checking before committing; for example, the BBC report is here.

I have now ordered a mystery box. When you place an order you are asked a few questions about your preferences – size, gender, colour scheme (neutrals, brights, darks) and whether you like plain or patterned tops. You are also asked your age group, with the reassuring corollary “If you dress younger or older choose your preferred age range.”

I will have to wait several weeks for my box to arrive. If I don’t like what’s in it I certainly won’t send it back, but will donate to a friend or a charity shop.



Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Laurence Cox 30th May '20 - 7:29pm

    For several decades I have bought almost all my clothes from Rohan ( They are so hard-wearing that they last for years and they operate a return scheme (‘Gift your gear’) so that your unwanted older clothing gets passed on to community organisations, youth groups, and charities working in the outdoors.

    I have no connection with Rohan other than as a satisfied customer.

  • What a great idea. I was wondering how I could help out somewhere to keep workers in work. I thik i will try a box.

  • Sue Sutherland 31st May '20 - 1:54pm

    Bangladesh experienced this crash in their primary industry quite early on in the Covid pandemic. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do a deal for them to manufacture PPE clothing and masks instead of their usual fashion items. People who sew for a hobby in this country have been making these for their local hospitals.

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