Quid – The female-led social enterprise redesigning the Made in Italy label for public good
What is Quid?
Quid is an award-winning Italian not-for-profit social enterprise committed to redesigning the Made in Italy fashion value chain for good: tackling at once, through fashion, climate change and labour market inequalities: With its own ethical fashion brand, Progetto Quid, Quid recovers end-of-line fabric – still to be found in large volumes in Italy’s fashion districts – and redesigns it into limited-edition and affordable fashion collections. Behind the design, manufacturing and sales of the brand there’s a highly diverse team because Quid welcomes those who are otherwise overlooked in the labour market.
What does Quid’s twofold social business and social impact model look like?
Quid’s mission is to create employment and career opportunities for those who’d otherwise struggle on the job market, injecting new ideas in Italy’s century-long history of fashion. The fabric we recover thanks to a network of 50 pro-bono suppliers, brands, mills and stockists alike, is granted a new lease of life and transformed into limited edition collections developed and distributed independently across our own stores B2C and B2B through solidarity sourcing initiatives in collaboration with prominent brands that have sustainability at heart – from IKEA to Unilever. This process takes place on our premises in Verona, where we harness the potential of circular fashion and design to create training and long-term employment opportunities across its entire value chain – from sewing to the sales, from logistics to marketing – for the most vulnerable on the national labour market, with a focus on women.
And what does your impact look like?
Founded in 2013 in Verona, in 2020 Quid’s turnover has reached 13 million, thanks to 31 collaborations with like-minded brands and to on-line and retail sales across its 10 flagship stores; since 2013 we’ve prolonged the life cycle of over 1200 km of excess fabric: by avoiding to produce fabric from scratch we avoid greenhouse gas emissions and spare natural resources. Our brand employs 133 workers, 84% women and 70% with a history of social and labour exclusion, and all our employees are supported through a unique internal welfare programme which includes digital inclusion and inclusive leadership workshops. We measure our impact – with a focus on social impact – in collaboration with Verona University and such impact directs our strategy.
Why fashion as a means for social change?
Because fashion has the power to transform. Fashion transforms those who wear it – this is obvious – we change looks. Beyond the surface, however, fashion transforms deeply and permanently those who make it and the places where’s made. This transformation can be for better and for worse. Nowadays we’re often exposed to fashion’s negative externalities: from natural disasters to modern slavery. However, in Quid we believe that fashion can be an agent of gentle disruption in the lives of those who create it. Design is a means of expression, it bridges the gap between the inside and the outside. Sewing and milling are creative process, it connects hands, hearts, mind, feet. Sealing deals, partnerships and sales is a relationship process, where fairness and mutual understanding support rather than hinder trade. Fashion connects one to oneself and to others, and that’s why it’s a tool for social change.
What does your (and fashion’s) future look like?
Today we face a challenging question: How to continue creating shared value for brands and communities, through fashion, in the post-pandemic, tear-down social fabric? In the next few years our challenge will be strengthening and rekindling B2B collaboration with partner brands. In the aftermath of a pandemic that has disrupted both our communities and our industry, now more than ever we can and should be agents of change leveraging collaborations with brands within the global and local economy to the advantage of our community. To do so, we plan to invest in two key programmes: Sustainable Employment and Sustainable Supply Chains. The former will focus on piloting, developing and disseminating, across profit and non-profit, best practices of workplace-based integration; the latter consists of strategic investments to catalyse synergy with B2B partners and to increase the circularity – social and environmental – of such collaborations. While our programmes are mostly sustained by sales revenues, in such exceptional times we’ll be working on cultivating philanthropic partnerships that can help us catalyse change, through know-how, capacity building and in-kind or financial resources.