Repurposing fashion


Ethical fashion

Stitch Tomorrow founders

Carmina Mancenon, left, and Dinar Thalieb, right, are the founders of Stitch Tomorrow, an initiative that sells recycled clothes and returns profits to those in the third world.

Credit: Yomiuri Shimbun

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Sixteen-year-old high-school student Carmina Mancenon remembers child beggars holding out their hands at the window of her grandparents' car as she rode to primary school.

"I was [around eight years old] at that time and [it was] seeing other kids who I could really relate to because they were around my age," says Carmina, who lived in Tokyo from an early age and had relocated temporarily to the Philippines as a child.

"And having this air-conditioned car, and being really comfortable with my uniform and everything, and then seeing this child out there who has almost nothing to wear, and doesn't even have food to eat for that day."

After returning to Tokyo - where she attends K International School in Koto Ward – a 12-year-old Carmina helped the homeless living in cardboard boxes at busy Ueno Station. Later, she visited Thailand with Habitat for Humanity.

"By doing those little activities, you really get a connection with the people that you're working with," she says. "I think that's really important in terms of how that brought me to aspire to change more things that are bigger."

In November, Carmina found herself in London at the Global Youth Summit, a British Council initiative that aims to create a network of young social entrepreneurs.

There she met 19-year-old Indonesian Dinar Thalieb, an undergrad in development studies at the Australian National University.

As part of the British Council event, the duo completed a community action project, in which they considered using the media as a vehicle for social change, but opted instead opted for a scheme that would repurpose unwanted clothes into fashion items.

"In reality, a lot of these kids our age, they don't really listen to the news," says Dinar, "especially those living underprivileged lives.

"They are the ones that will inherit this world so probably what I want to achieve most from this is the narrowing of the gap," says Dinar.

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