Linda with Liz Sim from Oxfam at the East Kilbride shop

Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has encourage local women to donate their unused bras to Oxfam’s Big Bra Hunt.

Oxfam has found that British women are guilty of hoarding nearly £1.2 billion* worth of bras that they don’t wear. Research by the charity found that the average British woman has nine bras in her collection and spends around £16 per item but then leaves three of these languishing unused in her drawers.

With many of those surveyed confessing that they didn’t know what to do with their unwanted bras, Oxfam is launching the ‘Big Bra Hunt’, appealing to women up and down the country to dig deep into their drawers and donate their forgotten bras to the charity.  The new campaign, supported by Helen Mirren, Zoe Ball and Miquita Oliver, aims to collect one million bras. 

Many of these bras will be sold in Oxfam’s UK high street shops to raise money for the charity’s work worldwide. Others will be sent to Frip Ethique (meaning ‘ethical second hand clothing’), a unique project run by Oxfam in Senegal, that sorts and trades unsold second hand clothes from Oxfam shops and provides essential employment for disadvantaged women in the area.  Bras are complex to manufacture so very few developing countries have the facilities to make their own. Therefore bras are one of the most desirable items in West African second hand clothing markets and make the most money for Frip Ethique. Some of the profits go towards Oxfam’s work in Senegal, the rest are reinvested into the business.

Linda said:

“I am delighted to support Oxfam’s Big Bra Hunt and encourage women in East Kilbride to get involved.  I’m sure many women have a number of bras stowed away left untouched for years. The Big Bra Hunt really highlights how every last item donated to Oxfam can be used in a truly unique way, making a real difference to people all around the world.”

A third of all women who have bras they no longer wear say they keep them because they forget they own them and 21 per cent confess they are simply hoarders. Oxfam discovered that women simply don’t know where to get rid of these bras, with 10 per cent saying they didn’t know charities accept them.

Sarah Farquhar, Oxfam’s head of retail brand adds: “This research really shows the vast number of bras women in the UK leave forgotten and unloved in their drawers. The Big Bra Hunt hopes to highlight, that whilst these bras may not be of use to the average British woman, the jobs created and profits made from the trade and sale of these bras, provide a unique opportunity for women in West Africa to provide for their families, send their kids to school and afford vital medicines.”

Oxfam shops up and down the country will be appealing for bra donations. Also as part of the ongoing M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, bra hunters who donate an M&S bra to their local Oxfam shop will receive a voucher worth £5 off a £35 spend on clothing, home and beauty at M&S stores and online.

For other ways to donate please visit www.oxfam.org.uk/bra.




* 1,176,336,000 worth of unused bras came from calculating 3 unused bras per every woman above 18 in the UK population (25.2 million women aged +18) at the average price of £15.56 per bra. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-231847


** 87% of 18-35 yr olds said they can’t leave the house without a bra compared to 84% said shoes, with 82% of 35-44 year olds saying they can’t leave the house without a bra, compared with 86% said shoes.


*** 40% of 18-24 year olds who have bought a bra in the last year compared to 18% of other age groups.


Notes to Editors

  1. Photo is of Linda Fabiani MSP and Liz Sim from Oxfam at the East Kilbride Oxfam Shop
  2. Case histories of Frip Ethique employees also available on request to press office.
  3. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1129 female adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th – 15th March 2012 .  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK female adults (aged 18+)
  4. Launched in 2008 the ongoing M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange encourages customers to recycle clothes they no longer wear. Customers who donate an item of M&S labelled clothing to an Oxfam shop receive a voucher for £5 off against purchases over £35 on clothing, homeware or beauty products in M&S stores and online (valid for one month).  One voucher per person.
  5. Oxfam has around 690 shops on high streets across the UK. There are more than 500 standard shops (selling a bit of everything), around 148 bookshops, 9 boutiques, 15 furniture/homeware shops, 11 shops with bridal departments, and six music shops.
  6. Oxfam Wastesaver – Oxfam is the only major charity to operate its own textile sorting facility, Wastesaver. It maximises revenue from textiles that cannot be re-sold in our shops, and minimises the amount of textiles sent to landfill.
    Wastesaver sorts clothing into around 100 different grades depending on garment type, condition, style and fabric. The clothing is then sold to the most suitable market via a number of different routes, including our high street shops, our online shop and festivals. Items which aren’t suitable for the UK market can be sold to designers who restyle garments and reuse fabrics in their collections, or to textile wholesalers in the UK and overseas. Low-grade items are sold in bulk to recycling and reprocessing companies in the UK, which use the textiles as mattress filler, carpet underlay and upholstery. 

Frip Ethique -(‘frip’ being the local term for second hand clothing, ‘ethique’ meaning ethical) is a social enterprise in Senegal which sorts and trades second hand clothes for sale in the local area.  It was set up to provide employment in Dakar for disadvantaged women and to generate a profit that could then be invested in livelihood programmes run by Oxfam in West Africa.  Frip Ethique buys large bales of the surplus clothing from Wastesaver at market rate then sorts it and sells it at a profit in the ‘frip’ markets of Dakar.  After several years of hard work the business is now making a profit – £100,000 in the last financial year – and employs over 40 people.  Many women’s lives are being turned around by the business – they can now afford to feed and clothe their families, send their kids to school and afford vital medicine

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