UNIQLO clothing treat for refugees on World Refugee Day

Refugees at the UNHCR office receive pre-loved t-shirts, jumpers, trousers, coats, and other clothes donated by UNIQLO customers.

Refugees at the UNHCR office excitedly received pre-loved t-shirts, jumpers, trousers, coats, and other clothes donated by UNIQLO customers.
© UNIQLO Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 8 July 2019 - There was an atmosphere of excitement and fun among refugees at the refugee centre in UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Kuala Lumpur.

Over three days, some 1,400 refugees who were at the centre for interviews and other administrative matters, were treated to a World Refugee Day surprise with UNIQLO Malaysia’s annual clothes distribution event.

This is the fourth year that UNIQLO and UNHCR have collaborated to distribute clothes on the UNHCR premises, in conjunction with World Refugee Day.

“Uniqlo’s vision is to make the world a better place through the power of clothing,” according to UNIQLO.

“Our sustainability initiatives aim to give back to people from diverse backgrounds and reduce our environmental impact, together with our employees. We believe we can use our business as a force for good and create an impact not just in the communities we operate but also other parts of the world.”

At the event, 73 UNIQLO volunteers, made up of staff and corporate partners, contributed their time to distribute over 9,700 articles of clothing to refugees.

“Our volunteers are essential to this initiative as all events are run with their assistance. This enables them to gain a better understanding of the recycling process, give back to society, and embrace Uniqlo’s sustainability philosophy. We also invite corporate partners to volunteer to encourage greater contribution to society,” said a UNIQLO representative.

There are over 174,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. They are not formally permitted to stay in Malaysia, and have no legal access to work. The UNIQLO donation will make a real difference to the lives of many refugees, who are struggling to make ends meet.

“We know it is often very difficult for refugee mothers and fathers to the meet basic needs of their family. Families work hard to bring in enough money just to pay rent and feed the family, but more often than not there is little left for anything else,” said Maja Lazic, UNHCR Deputy Representative.

“Receiving the gift of good quality clothes will go a long way in making a difference in their lives. Clothes not only mean a protective layer for the body, it also returns a sense of dignity for people who have lost everything.”

UNHCR also recognised UNIQLO’s commitment in strengthening refugees’ livelihoods while they are in Malaysia.

“Since 2016, UNIQLO has strengthened its assistance to refugees in Malaysia through a variety of self-reliance programmes. For instance, UNIQLO has worked with social enterprise Fugee Lah to launch a t-shirt collection designed by refugee youths. UNIQLO also has a training programme for refugee students to provide them real-life retail experience,” said Lazic. “We see UNIQLO as a strong and genuine partner for change, not just directly for refugees, but also broadly for the Malaysian society and environment.”

Globally, UNIQLO has worked in partnership with UNHCR for close to a decade, donating clothing to refugees through the innovative All-Product Recycling Initiative. Customers are encouraged to bring in second-hand clothes that are in good condition and these are donated to refugees.

The company has, since 2006, donated more than 10 million items of clothing to forcibly displaced men, women and children in more than 37 countries, as well as providing millions of dollars in financial contributions.

In Malaysia, since the partnership began in 2013, UNIQLO has distributed nearly 70,000 articles of clothing valued at approximately USD$73,500, benefitting over 6,000 refugee men, women, and children. Over 600 UNIQLO volunteers have participated in the recycling & distribution activities over the years. UNIQLO also supports livelihoods and vocational training programmes for refugees in Malaysia.