We make shopping and saving the world as easy as clicking a button. – VOWS
It never fails to inspire you when you witness entrepreneurs starting off with a good cause. In their mid 20s, two young and exuberant sisters – Athirah and Syakirin Rosik – founders of VOWS (previously known as Thrift On Wheels) were motivated to do something about the disastrous impacts of textile overconsumption and waste which were affecting the environment and society as well as promoting low-wage labour in developing countries: they were going to start a thrift shop.
Syarikin (left) and Athirah (right) with the Thrift van. Photo by Poskod.my.
In Malaysia, Syakirin told to The Malay Mail, the main issue of textile waste is overconsumption: “We Malaysians buy things we don’t need, don’t want or don’t want to wear again.” And in recent years, big fashion brands have dominated Malaysia by introducing a fast fashion culture that goes against sustainability; increasing the number of clothes thrown away and taking up space in the landfill.
Travelled to Hong Kong and Europe, the duo were exposed to the thrifting culture and seeing that the idea of thrift store is an unfamiliar one in Malaysia, the sisters decided to start the fashion movement. Essentially going around in a mobile van, their business has flourished in just months which led them relocating to what they call the Thrift House, filled with vintage and eclectic used clothing and accessories, in Sutera Damansara.
The Thrift House at Sutera Damansara. Photo by The Malay Mail Online.
So, how VOWS operates is that it buys your old clothes and you get to make some cash at the same time! VOWS is very strict with the selection for its selling items however: your clothes must be in good condition in order to ensure its quality to its potential buyers. But even though the clothes are damaged, the clothes can be refashioned and “upcycled” – made into new, artistic bags and accessories by VOWS’ creative team and will be featured in the VOWS+ line.
Despite all the scepticism among Malaysians including friends and family, the sisters have triumphed in convincing their customers that branded clothing can be bought for much less in a thrift shop without having its quality compromised. The siblings hope to introduce the culture of reusing and recycling so that Malaysian consumers can learn about conscious, responsible and sustainable fashion, and also overcoming the stigma that used clothes are dirty and gross.
Athirah (left) is the eldest sister with Syakirin (right) being the younger one. Photo by Tally Press.
Both sisters have each other’s back with Athirah, the eldest sister, working as an F&B Manager at Wondermilk cafe in Damansara Uptown on weekdays, hence Syakirin runs the philanthropic business full time on weekdays. Regardless how busy they are with their careers, both sisters made efforts in developing VOWS into a better platform for fashion lovers on a tight budget.
Social media have tremendously driven VOWS’ success to its peak by reaching out through various platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Currently, VOWS is only based in Kuala Lumpur but the sisters are looking to expand to other states as they have received requests from cities like Penang and Johor Bahru. VOWS has launched its website where you can now see the list of selling items online. Shopping and saving the world is now as easy as clicking a button.
To know more about VOWS, visit its website at https://vows.my/