Design & Style


HoMie is where the heart is.

22 September 2021

Melbourne ethical fashion brand and social enterprise HoMie is much more than a streetwear label – it’s a force for good helping to fight youth homelessness.

Design & Style


HoMie is where the heart is.

22 September 2021

Melbourne ethical fashion brand and social enterprise HoMie is much more than a streetwear label – it’s a force for good helping to fight youth homelessness.

HoMie founders Nick Pearce and Marcus Crook.

Nick Pearce and Marcus Crook are the co-founders of Melbourne-based ethical clothing business HoMie. Image: Supplied.

Nick Pearce and Marcus Crook never set out to run a fashion label. But as the co-founders of Melbourne-based ethical clothing business HoMie, they’re enjoying the ride. “We never anticipated having a store or brand at all. It’s grown organically,” explains Marcus.

It all started in 2015, when a bunch of mates created a Facebook page intended to help destigmatise homelessness. That simple idea has blossomed into a fashion enterprise that provides new clothing, accredited training programs and career opportunities to young people experiencing homelessness and hardship in Melbourne and beyond.

With 100 per cent of the brand’s profits invested into programs aimed at reducing youth homelessness, HoMie’s tees, hoodies and colour-block tracksuits represent much more than on-trend streetwear.

“The beauty of our model is that we can kill two birds with one stone. We are having these direct outcomes through prevention-based programs but we’re also educating the community on youth homelessness,” says Nick.

To date, 28 young people have graduated the HoMie Pathway Alliance program – which offers paid retails internships and personal development training – and gone on to secure employment and live independently.

“We’ve really invested in these young people. We can’t take all the credit but we’re an important piece of the puzzle,” says Nick. “Ultimately, it’s the young people who are applying themselves. It’s amazing to see what support, opportunity and a bit of empathy can do.”

Partners for a cause

Partnerships have been key to increasing HoMie’s reach and impact. Apparel giant Hanes Australasia has participated in HoMie’s Pathway Alliance program since 2019, providing employment opportunities for participants. Recently, the partnership evolved into a nationwide clothing collaboration with Hanes brand, Champion – HoMie x Champion.

“To partner with the oldest street sportswear brand in the world is huge for our credibility and exposure. It’s been amazing for us,” says Marcus.  

Clothing from HoMie X Champion collaboration

HoMie’s recent collaboration with streetwear label Champion catapulted the brand, and its mission, into the spotlight. Image: Supplied.

Upping the care factor

Extending a hand of friendship to homeless people is a core part of what HoMie does. To achieve this, the brand’s VIP Shopping Days invite people experiencing homelessness or hardship in store to receive a haircut, a pamper session and some new threads of their choosing.

“You can’t underestimate the power of a haircut and fresh clothing for people who can’t afford it,” says Marcus.

Importantly, many graduates of the Pathway Alliance program now co-facilitate the shopping days, which are held at the flagship store in Melbourne’s Fitzroy. “Obviously our clothing isn’t going to solve homelessness but having that friendly face and someone who has had that shared lived experience is helpful,” explains Nick.

Another key aim of the brand is to encourage more empathy towards people experiencing homelessness. “For us, it’s about engaging as many people as we can and our vehicle for that is through fashion. It’s about making caring cool,” says Marcus. “The more exposure HoMie gets, the more people we’ll be able to help through our programs.”

Clothing from HoMie X Champion collaboration

By implementing sustainability in its supply chain and championing diversity and inclusion on the runway, HoMie appeals to a rising tide of consumers who are using their purchasing power to support brands that align with their values. Image: Supplied.

Slashing fashion’s footprint

A recent report for the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) revealed that every 10 minutes, an estimated 6000 kilograms of textiles and clothing are dumped in Australian landfills.

The shocking levels of wastage associated with fast fashion is something that HoMie’s creators have endeavoured to avoid. Excess stock is distributed during VIP Shopping Days or upcycled into new garments for HoMie’s sub-label, REBORN.

The brand has diverted more than 648kg of textiles from landfill so far. A partnership with textile recycling B Corporation UPPAREL encourages customers to upcycle old clothing in exchange for HoMie store credit. Online orders are shipped in compostable postage bags, further reducing waste.

Some of the HoMie range is manufactured in Melbourne while the core range is produced in China within ethically certified factories that meet international labour and environmental standards.

“The ethics around how the clothing is made and who is making it is really important for us,” says Marcus.

Taking care of business

By taking actions such as choosing sustainable manufacturing practices and championing diversity and inclusion on the runway, HoMie appeals to a rising tide of consumers who are using their purchasing power to support brands that align with their values.

“There’s a growing audience that cares about societal issues and isn’t afraid to speak up about it. It’s important for us to harness this passion for change and be a part of it,” Nick explains, before adding:

“We don’t want to be a fad. Ultimately, without any profit there is no purpose, so our focus is on continually growing our organisation and using our brand as a channel to drive growth.”

With another top-secret collaboration in the pipeline, Nick and Marcus are well aware of what’s at stake. Now that the business has gone from crawling to walking to running, HoMie is experiencing an exciting growth phase.

“There’s lots of potential. It’s exciting but also daunting. But we’re ready and want to have a good crack at it,” says Nick.

Despite the demands of running a business, Marcus feels that he’s right where he belongs: “We wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been such a great journey to share with friends who are passionate about the issue of youth homelessness. It gets you pumped to get out of the bed and go to work.”
 

By Jo Stewart