This month’s feature is turning the spotlight on an incredible nonprofit organization that is helping women across the United States recover from eating disorders.
“The Garment Project” was created by Erin Drischler and her fiancé Jordan Tomb. Their mission is to donate brand new clothing, free of tags and sizes, to women who are in recovery from an eating disorder.
Erin was kind enough to answer my questions about The Garment Project, and introduce herself and Garment to Have Clothes, Will Travel. She explains how and why she and Jordan started this organization, why sizeless clothing is important to those in recovery and what you can do to help! Check out her Q&A below, and be sure to head to The Garment Project website by clicking here.
Q&A With Erin of The Garment Project
Can you tell my readers a little about yourselves and what The Garment Project is?
Erin: Jordan and I created The Garment Project because of our personal experiences with my eating disorder. At one point in my recovery, I realized there was a missing piece that would make the recovery process easier. A person can go through intense psychological and physical changes while in treatment, which can make it difficult to return home to an environment that hasn’t changed with you.
Garment has relationships with treatment centers across the US. When a woman is reaching a point in her recovery process where our service would be most helpful, her treatment team will start to communicate some helpful info to Garment. With that style, personality, and measurement details Garment creates a unique shopping site for each individual. From there, our new friend can pick out items that she likes, we’ll box them up and ship them right to her.
Garment also works with retailers across the US to ensure that we have an inventory with enough variety to fit anyone’s style. There are so many retailers that are acting philanthropically with their items after a certain season has passed, when items have gone on sale, etc. Garment has been fortunate enough to be in contact with incredibly generous people at both national retailers as well as smaller boutique shops. We take boxes of new, never worn clothing in all shapes, colors, styles, and most importantly, sizes. Eating disorders do not target certain body types. We want the women we serve to see more options from Garment than they’d otherwise be able to find in most stores.
When and how was The Garment Project started, and what do you hope the future holds for Garment?
Erin: Garment was created from about two years of conversations between Jordan and myself. I have worked in retail for the past decade and have always been interested in fashion. Our careers have given us knowledge and experience that helped us to create something innovative and truly necessary. Once we had our concept worked out, we started to talk to friends in the non-profit space about taking next steps and making this idea a reality. Jordan and I have been learning as we go, but we make a great team.
Our hope is that Garment can reach women, and eventually men too, on a global scale and spread confidence through fashion. We want to become a resource for the millions of women and men who are working hard to recover.
For someone who has not been impacted by an eating disorder, can you explain why sizeless clothing is so important to someone’s recovery?
Erin: Fixating on a particular clothing size or number is a common behavior associated with eating disorders, and letting go of an identity that has come to be defined by a certain size is a difficult and complex thing to do. Various eating disorder behaviors can lead to weight fluctuations and the body might settle in a place where they feel uncomfortable while still early in stages. Letting go of clothing that no longer fits or was once used for eating disorder purposes is helpful in the healing process, but it can be a difficult challenge. Even though I still fit into some of the clothes, they reminded me of eating disordered behaviors and I found it therapeutic to shop for new items that I associated with recovery.
When women who are recovering from an eating disorder receive their clothing, do they have to pay anything? Or does The Garment Project completely cover the cost of the sizeless clothing and shipping?
Erin: Garment’s service is free. One of the biggest obstacles of replacing your wardrobe after a treatment stay is the financial burden. Treatment can cost up to $30,000 a month. During that time clients should be focusing on their well-being, not their paychecks. Shipping and returns are covered by the organization.
Does The Garment Project choose the clothing sent, or does the client choose her clothing?
Erin: The woman picks clothing from an individualized website that we’ve curated for her based on the information provided from our partnered treatment centers. This gives each person the opportunity to create a new wardrobe for her healthy lifestyle and body.
Are the treatment centers The Garment Project assists in specific regions of the United States, or is it open to treatment centers across the country? And do the treatment centers contact you for help, or do the women themselves reach out?
Garment is based in the US–currently in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, however, we provide our service to women all across the country. We are establishing The Garment Project with our partnered treatment facilities in the US and hope to expand to other areas in the near future. We try to keep communication between Garment and the treatment teams at the centers we work with. The women we serve don’t have to do much to receive their packages other than picking out what clothes they want.
We spent a productive afternoon with our friends at @rue21official! Amazing employees volunteered their time to help us remove tags and prepare inventory. We can’t wait for round two! . . . . . #garmentproject #garment #thegarmentproject #clothing #clothes #rue21 #retailers #giveback #action #nonprofit #nonprofitorganization #edawareness #edrecovery #eatingdisorderawareness #eatingdisorderrecovery #eatingdisorderhelp #recovery #fashion #style #empowerment #confidence #ruegivesback
Is all of the clothing The Garment Project provides new? Or is some of it used?
Garment only takes clothing donations directly from retailers. Doing this ensures that we can have variety in both style and size while maintaining quality and an organized log of details about each item.
This is such a great cause! What can we do to help?
Erin: The Garment Project has already seen such an encouraging response and we know that it’s all because of people talking. The best thing anyone can do for The Garment Project is to talk about it. Talk about eating disorders. Talk about mental health, about resources for help, and about supporting anyone around you who are struggling. We encourage everyone to continue our conversation on social media and via email. Individuals can donate to Garment by spreading the word about our cause, talking to their employers about donation match programs, or by sending monetary donations on our website thegarmentproject.org.
Thank you, again, to Erin for sharing The Garment Project’s mission with Have Clothes, Will Travel! I also encourage you to watch Erin’s full story in her video, below.