Ryerson startup combines virtual reality, fashion and charity

The team behind Gimme360 in their office at Ryerson's Fashion Zone (LR Alex De Jäger (Courtesy of Danielle Lee)

The team behind Gimme360 in their office at Ryerson’s Fashion Zone: From left to right: Alex De Jäger, Daniel Bokun, Lucas Bruno and Josiah Crombie (Danielle Lee)

A startup from Ryerson’s Fashion Zone is combining fashion and technology to start a social movement and is using Kickstarter to do it.

Gimme360 is a clothing company that donates proceeds from every garment sold to provide water for developing countries. The amount of proceeds donated depend on the project they’re working on due to the amount of equipment needed for different drought conditions. For their recent project in Cambodia, they donated 20 per cent of proceeds.

They have partnered up with Ryan’s Well Foundation and 1001 Fontaines. Through their partnerships, they’ve managed to help 300,000 people in Cambodia.

The company uses virtual reality as a storytelling medium to bring viewers on a journey. People can follow how their shirt was made, as well as the water filtration and delivery process. At one point in the video, you’re surrounded by a group of school kids drinking water in Cambodia said Daniel Bokun, the company’s chief marketing officer.

“Because you see it and feel it, you want to be in it. You want to be part of that impact and you want to be part of what Gimme360 is doing,” said Bokun.

(Courtesy of Gimme360)

Daniel Bokun during Gimme360’s trip to Cambodia. (Courtesy Jazz Brar Photography)

Gimme360 was started by friends Josiah Crombie, Lucas Bruno, Daniel Bokun and Alex De Jäger. Crombie and Bruno came up with the idea three years ago while they were working at charities. They discovered that people gave less when they didn’t know where the money was going. Dissatisfied with the lack of transparency, they wanted to create something different.

Enter virtual reality. The clothes are embedded with a special chip that users tap with their smartphones to access videos that can be viewed in 360 degrees.

“What we wanted to do is remove barriers for people, so they can check on the progress of the project they’re funding,” said De Jäger.

Besides the virtual reality videos, people can also type in the coordinates printed on the apparel into Google Maps to see which country they’re helping.

What’s different about what Gimme360 is doing is that they’re combining current technology with design consumer activism said Lorella Di Cintio, an associate professor at the Ryerson school of interior design. Design consumer activism, according to Di Cintio, is when consumers directly support a cause by purchasing a designed product.

“What’s amazing about this is how they’re immediately sharing their transparency with their selected community, said Di Cintio. “I think they’re onto something and it’s a compelling model for us as outside consumers.”

However, Di Cintio says that design activists should keep in mind three things: credible partnerships, transparency and helping both local and global communities.

(Courtesy of Gimme360)

A look at Gimme360’s coordinates collection (Courtesy Johnny Zhang)

Gimme360 currently makes their clothes in Canada. At the moment, they’re selling scoop tees, hoodies and joggers. Although they are focusing on the global community, they eventually want to do more local projects. One of their current local projects is a partnership with the Clearview Vision Institute, a clinic that focuses on eye care. They want to make sure their work is sustainable.

“We don’t want to build a well in a country and have it deteriorate in five years,” said De Jäger. “Once we build a project, we want it to live, prosper and grow on its own.”

Their Kickstarter campaign will run until Dec. 5.

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