FAT x Koha Apparel

FAT x Koha Apparel

by Charli Cox

Charli speaks to Kevin from FAT regarding basic human rights and the importance of moving and grooving.

In a few words, describe what Koha Apparel is?

A unique, beautiful community being afforded their basic human right - quality clothing.

We provide clean, quality clothing to those vulnerable & marginalised in our community. Koha promotes dignity and social inclusion, enabling opportunities to secure housing, employment and improving quality of life overall. 

Do you remember the moment that made you want to start Koha Apparel?

When I first moved to Tāmaki Makaurau, I volunteered at an op shop - it was here that I became increasingly aware of those who were not being afforded their basic right to warm & suitable clothing. Many in our community, particularly those experiencing homelessness, did not have adequate access to clothing - I knew this was something I could, and should, do something about. 

Clothing is a fundamental human right but, in reality, one that not all have equal access to. 

Tell us one successful story you have had with Koha Apparel.

There have been a few. I think the biggest success has been the way the community has welcomed us with open arms. You will never understand the feeling of warmth at a pop-up until you experience it for yourself. For me there is nothing quite like it. If we had to talk more specific stories, I often reflect on some of our Auckland Central regulars who I have known for 3 years now, over that time I've watched many recover from meth addiction and secure a whare for themselves. 

Tell us one embarrassing moment you’ve had with Koha Apparel.

Anytime I have to speak on camera, it’s not my strong point but apparently all that fun stuff comes with running Koha Apparel!

If I want to support you, what can I do?

Firstly, recognise and be aware of the statistics and lived experience of inequity in New Zealand - recognise your privilege. Then take tangible steps towards using your privilege to uplift others! In the context of Koha Apparel, you can come down and volunteer with us - head over to our website and register your interest - https://kohaapparel.com/pages/get-involved 

Continue to support Koha Apparel and other initiatives that tackle unsustainable practices, while also remaining critical of the systems that force these initiatives to exist in the first place. Aim to make these services redundant because the need no longer exists, campaign for a better world like your life depends on it, because frankly, it does.  

What is your wish for Koha and all the volunteers in 2022?

I hope for the day we can all connect again on a bigger scale. Everyone that turns up is fuelled by a passion for connection and giving. It's why we turn up every week. I hope we can continue to reach more people and shine a bigger light on the inequity that litters New Zealand. Overall, I hope we can protect people from the bitter cold of the night, restore the dignity that should never have been stripped away from them and move closer towards our services being unneeded. 

What advice can you give to people to reduce their clothing consumption?

Think before you buy. Ask yourself a couple of simple questions. How often can I wear this item? Will its resale value hold, or not? Is it versatile? Donating clothing is not the answer, donating clothing doesn’t mean it leaves this planet and in some cases donating clothing doesn’t always prolong the garments life. It all starts with how you purchase, the brands you support, go out of your way to repair your garments and explore with what you already have. We as consumers have a level of accountability to uphold, but brands need to do the tough mahi here too. 

Sadly, you‘ve never been too FAT before, but have heard about us. What does it represent to you?

It is more than a workout located within concrete pillars! You’ve created a community within FAT. Community is what people turn up for these days, we all need it. 

From 1 to 10, how excited are you to participate in the FAT GIVE BACK class on Friday?

An 11. Kevin is a great friend of mine, and I am almost embarrassed I have never been to a FAT class.

How important is movement for you?

People often ask me how I look after myself, and one of the many ways I do this is moving. Mentally I feel strong when I have taken time for myself, it keeps me sane. I feel ready for my mahi once I have had that hour of Charli time in the morning and feel I can let go of my mahi during meditation in the evenings.