Harrisburg, Penn., clothing company, launched Dec. 4 with an investment
of $2,000, has pledged to end homelessness through fashion.
every item of clothing it sells, the KNO Clothing company ¬— which
currently offers its t-shirt and sweatshirts exclusively online at
www.knoclothing.com — will donate an equivalent piece of apparel to a
homeless person. Kno Clothing will also provide funds to organizations
that work with homeless people.
“In the long view, we want to revolutionize fashion to bring an end to
homelessness,” the Cochin-born Anthony Thomas, who co-founded Kno
Clothing with Steven Caldwell, told India-West.
“We want to put a face to homelessness and help people interact with homeless people,” said Thomas.
major clothing companies are now using fashion to address global health
and social issues. The Gap’s PRODUCT RED contributes 50 percent of the
profits from that line to fight AIDS in Africa, through the work of the
Awearness, a campaign of the shoemaker Kenneth Cole, works on prevention, education and decreasing the stigma around HIV/AIDS.
said he and Caldwell met a number of homeless people while studying at
Messiah College in Philadelphia, a city which has roughly 4,000 people
living on its streets and serves approximately 15,000 through its
Harrisburg, where Kno Clothing is based, has a
homeless population of 300 people, including 158 families. The city has
no shortage of food or emergency shelter, said Thomas, adding however
that the homeless population there did need warm clothing.
and Caldwell took to the streets a day before the Dec. 4 launch party,
and gave away 30 pairs of socks. The two young founders plan to do a
similar give-away once a quarter, based on their volume of sales.
has currently partnered with the Bethesda Mission, based in Harrisburg,
which houses up to 100 men, women and children at its facility each
night. The Mission also offers a free medical clinic and hot meals to
Thomas said he was convinced that homelessness
could happen to anyone under unfortunate circumstances. He pointed to
Jerry, a man he had met on the streets of Harrisburg, who had graduated
from college and was working when he started drinking heavily, and
eventually became homeless.
There were many parallels between his own and Jerry’s life, Thomas said.
one should live without a home or at least safe and reliable shelter,”
says the company on its Web site, adding, “Homelessness is neither a
disease nor is it contagious; it is a very real circumstance that may be
the result of any number of negative factors such as poverty,
unemployment, physical or mental illness.”
In the 24 days since
its launch, the for-profit company has already sold 70 items of
clothing. The five-item line features four t-shirts retailing for $25
each, and a $45 hooded sweatshirt, emblazoned with the words, “One
Million Every Night,” to draw attention to the enormity of homelessness
in the U.S.
The recycled organic cotton tees are sourced from
American Apparel and printed in the U.S. The hoodies are sourced from
Anvil Organics Knitwear, and also screened in the U.S. Kno Clothing
tries to use fair trade, organic products for its entire line, Thomas
Over the next year, Thomas and Caldwell hope to
expand the line, and move it into stores. Thomas has already started
discussions with several chain retailers.
The son of Cochin
natives Joe and Susan Thomas, Anthony Thomas migrated to the U.S. in
2000 for his studies. After graduation in 2006, Thomas worked at Messiah
College for three years before moving on to New York University in
August, where he serves as a senior development associate.
Source: India West