Photo: © Tony Dočekal
The special upcycled sleeping bag jackets help homeless people to survive on the street
Everyone who has to sleep on the street should stay warm, dry and comfortable. This is the guiding principle of the young, successful fashion designer Bas Timmers from Amsterdam. Having made a name for himself with a stylish hoodie with an integrated scarf, he developed the Sheltersuit multifunctional jacket as an emergency solution for homeless people and founded the non-profit organization Sheltersuit Foundation to alleviate the suffering of people on the street.
Over 150 million people are homeless worldwide and the number is growing every day. The causes vary widely: poverty, mental illness, job loss, natural disasters and wars. Homelessness is often invisible and anonymous, which is why this personal and social catastrophe rarely receives much attention. As an emergency solution, the sheltersuit gives homeless people warmth, protection and dignity and builds a bridge to social workers. They are produced fairly and sustainably in Sheltersuit’s own social factory. Each Sheltersuit is unique, and stylish. They are up 100% cycled from high-quality fabrics and textile waste donated by the outdoor and fashion industry. A Dutch festival organizer contributes sleeping bags which are left behind. In this way, the high-quality materials do not end up as waste, but are transformed into something useful. It is also important for Timmers to offer the homeless a perspective: Refugees in particular find employment in his own factory who would have no chance on the job market. For his commitment, the American Time magazine named him one of the “Next Generation Leaders” in 2020. This nomination has helped to spread Sheltersuit’s message and mission worldwide. This has facilitated discussions with large companies and opened many doors, says Timmers.
The 3-in-1 concept of the multifunctional warmth dispenser is innovative: the Sheltersuit consists of a windproof and waterproof jacket, an optional sleeping bag attached and a practical duffel bag for transportation. The jacket can be quickly and easily converted into a sleeping bag to provide immediate protection. Important in the design were Timmer’s additional functions, adapted to the needs of homeless people living on the street. A large hood protects the face from rain and the glare of streetlights, an integrated scarf keeps out the cold and the bottom can be easily opened to allow movement. Large jacket pockets hold loose items and are always ready to hand.
Sheltersuit has now created another product for warmer climates: The Shelterbag is a portable sheltered bed that can be rolled up into a bag. Together with other aid organizations, they have been able to distribute thousands of Sheltersuits and Shelterbags to people seeking protection in refugee camps.
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Contribution to the 17 Global Goals
Good Health and Well-Being
Sheltersuit protects homeless people from the cold and adverse weather
Responsible Consumption and Production
Innovative recycling scheme which includes high-tech fabrics such as goretex
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Employment of refugees with limited language skills to manufacture the sheltersuits
Partnerships for the Goals
Active engagement of outdoor companies and festival organizers for the in-kind donations
Strong media work that draws attention to the issue of homelessness
Photos: © Tony Dočekal