Have you ever seen a problem and think “Someone should do something about that”?
Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer was starting a career as a cold weather-gear specialist in 2014 when he saw a homeless man one cold night. He could’ve given the man one of his signature fashion hoodies, but what would’ve that done to the brand? But after a friend’s homeless father died of hypothermia, he realized the person who should be helping was him.
First he thought about what it takes to survive on the streets — a garment that’s waterproof, warm, portable and good for sleeping. So Timmer designed the “Sheltersuit” with a detachable sleeping bag that could be zipped off and stored during the day. The garment was an instant success.
That was six years ago. To date he has distributed 12,500 Sheltersuits to homeless people all over Europe, the U.S. and to refugees in Greece, adapting them when necessary to local conditions. The suits are made out of donated and upcycled materials, and costs are financed by donations. Timmer is now expanding to South Africa, where he has partnered with UNICEF to produce the suits at around $30 a piece. He would like to open similar small factories all over the world, so local people could learn to sew the suits and thus provide jobs.
Timmer realizes his invention is no solution for homelessness, but it is a step forward: “It is a band-aid, but it’s a good band-aid. People want a house; they want a job. Until they have that, let’s at least protect them while they are on the streets.”
Taken from “This Dutch Designer Is Keeping Homeless People Safe on the Streets By Turning Snowsuits Into Sleeping Bags” by Aryn Baker (https://time.com/collection-post/5896371/bas-timmer-next-generation-leaders/?). The photo is from that site.