"Difficult times can happen to any of us at any time," Halas tells marie claire Australia. "The core of Thread Together began with the idea that people at their lowest point deserve the best, not the worst. Fast Forward eight years and that belief has been proven over and over again. Certainly, my most recent trip to the South Coast highlighted this. People lost everything, from their homes to their underpants and most importantly their photos and their life stories."
And it's not just those affected by the current health crisis that Thread Together is working to help, but the "ones who may have been forgotten." As Halas describes, these vans are to help bushfire victims who lost their homes and belongings just five months ago, as well as the homeless and vulnerable during uncertain times.
"So we're talking about the bushfire victims, we're talking about the homeless people - we want to get the clothes to them, especially with the cold months coming up."
Speaking of the response to Thread Together's trip alongside their mobile shops, Halas says that it's helped highlight the "strength" of the Australian people.
"Driving through the fire-affected areas of the South Coast I was struck by the intense changed landscape, the quietness of the towns, and the strength of the people," she says. "The reality is it is taking a long time to rebuild, and that you would expect given the magnitude of the loss. Added to the fires and floods the communities have had to contend with the pandemic, making access to support that much harder.
"People are still living in very difficult circumstances. The new clothes we provided not only replaced lost items but they provided warmth and conversation. When I was there, it wasn’t about throwing old clothes at people, it was about taking the time to choose what they wanted and most importantly to hear their stories."
Halas shares her experience meeting Ben and his mother Judy, who are still grappling with the devastating impacts on their lives following the bushfires.
"As we choose a pair of new runners for Ben he retold the panic of running from the fires and his hope to once again work at the local vet," Halas says. "When we told his mother, Judy, that the jeans she had chosen were actually the same brand worn by Meghan Markle, she coyly laughed, something Ben had not seen her do for many months."
Thread Together was able to provide Judy and Ben with entirely new wardrobes of brand new clothing supplied by its partners, including a pair of Outland Denim jeans, that as Halas says, were the same brand worn by Meghan Markle when she visited Australia, as well as a Carla Zampatti jumper.
"There were tears, laughter, and appreciation that they had not been forgotten," Halas adds. "We would tell them where the clothes came from, all the great brands that have come on board to be part of the community."
Presently there are over 200 fashion partners who have saved over 2.5 million pieces of clothing from landfill. And now, Thread Together is clothing up to 2,000 people each week and supports hundreds of charities – from Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul, The Salvation Army to Dress for Success.
"The fashion industry now knows that by working with Thread Together they are not just clothing manufacturers, they are community members. At the end of the day Thread Together not only delivered new bras, jumpers and shoes but it bought brightness, dignity and hope, all of which is the foundation of Thread Together. "
To learn more visit Thread Together's website.