Since most suits are quite expensive, students feel unnecessarily burdened of the high cost of these clothes.
Acknowledging this problem, three passionate individuals created Opencloset, a non-profit organization that lends formal suits to young people.
Founded in July 2012, Opencloset possesses approximately one thousand kinds of formal clothing donated by social mentors. The founders of Opencloset used to work in world-famous companies; it was their desire to help young people suffering from unemployment which led them to start Opencloset.
“All of us knew that getting employed was extremely difficult, enduring intense competitions and severe processes,” said Han Man-il, the founder of Opencloset. “We searched for ways to help them and decided to use ‘clothes’ as our medium.”
Three of the founders met in Social Designer School from Seoul Metropolitan Government, the place where people who look for measures to benefit society gather.
“At first, we did not have plans to develop Opencloset this much,” Han said. “However, the increasing number of users led us to take the organization more seriously.”
Opencloset not only lends clothes, but also lets people share their experiences in the job market. Social mentors who donate the clothes give advice to young people who borrow these clothes.
“We ask for a short message when receiving donations and on returned clothes from people,” Han said. “It endows the clothes meaning and stories, which makes people find their hidden value of those clothings.”
Donators recall their old memories within the clothes, such as their first job interview, first day in the office and so on. They wish to share those moments with young people and help them form their own precious memories.
Since people who use the service are faced with important interviews that can change their whole lives, the members of Opencloset are able to share those stories. It is one of their greatest pleasures of participating in the job.
“I remember a person who had diffulties finding suitable clothes that fit him,” said Kim So-young, the director of Opencloset. “Because of his short height and pompous body, dressing up properly was his biggest concern. He came to us out of desperation, and miraculously, we were able to find a proper suit within his size eventually. He did great in the interview and even his parents thanked us.”
Moreover, there was a case when one person who used the service for a job interview decided to become a member of Opencloset.
“I received a short-time notice for the interview so I was in a hurry to find a proper suit,” said Seo Dong-gun, a member of Opencloset.
“When I visited Opencloset, people were so kind that I had a feeling in my heart on my way home. Eventually I decided to become a member of Opencloset even though I passed the interview. Now I am really enjoying my job.”
Despite Opencloset’s continuous efforts to benefit the young people, it has certain limitations. The members hope to have larger selection of clothes they can lend, since it will broaden people’s choice of clothing.
“It is sad to see people returning with empty hands because they cannot find suitable clothes,” Han said. “We are searching for more ways to receive suits in various sizes that can fit many people.”
The members of Opencloset advise university students to give a deep thought on their dreams and future before building the careers properly.
“Always reflect yourself rather than making instant decisions,” Han said. “Take time, and think about it. It will be too late once you step into the wrong path and spend too much time there.”