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Fashion Zone startup uses VR to make charity transparent

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By Noushin Ziafati

A startup company based out of Ryerson’s Fashion Zone, Gimme360, is merging fashion, technology and philanthropy to help customers see how their charitable donations affect people. 

After purchasing one of Gimme360’s products, customers can use virtual reality (VR) technology to see how a portion of their purchase provides clean water to people in need.

“What you wear, what you do, is who you are,” said Lucas Bruno, one of Gimme360’s founders.

“If you can wear something that says you want to know where your money is going, you want to help people, and you want to do it in a fashionable way, we think that’s the coolest way to do it,” Bruno said.

Gimme360 partners with charities to bring clean water to developing countries. They do so with the goal of giving their donors “360 degrees of transparency.”

Gimme360 currently provides water to people in Cambodia.

Initially, Bruno and the company’s other founders Josiah Crombie, Alexander De Jäger, and Daniel Bukon, sold T-shirts that indicated the coordinates of where their funds were going. They decided to take that further by incorporating VR into their products.

If one uses a Gimme360 VR kit and hovers over a label on one of Gimme360’s products, the YouTube app on their smartphone opens and plays a virtual reality video.

These videos show people where and how their garment or product was made, all the way to how their purchase affects the  people living at the indicated coordinates.

Every video shows the people who make the garments and how they make them. Then it shows a school, where a portion of one’s purchase provides clean water. Next, it takes you through the story of where the water is coming from, the filtration process, and its delivery to schools.

“All throughout the process, we have overlays on the virtual reality videos so you actually get deeper insight into what’s going on,” Crombie said.

Prior to using virtual reality technology, the team partnered with Ryan’s Well Foundation to provide clean water to people in Uganda.

Currently, the Gimme360 team has a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next project. They will be working in collaboration with the NGO 1,001Fontaines to help over 300,000 people get access to clean water in Cambodia.

Gimme360’s vision was developed by Bruno and co-founder Josiah Crombie, who worked for several charities in high school.

Going door to door, they were asked where the money raised by those charities was going. Unsure of the answers, they realized there was a problem.

The founders of Gimme360 decided to start their own charitable initiative that was as transparent as possible, telling donors whatever they want to know about where their money goes.   

“We really want to humanize the issue around philanthropy. It’s one thing to see or hear about everything happening, but when you actually see it and you’re immersed in virtual reality, it kind of touches your heart,” Crombie said.

“You feel like you’re there. With a tax receipt or a photo, it doesn’t really do much,” Bruno added.

The founders of Gimme360 started their ventures in the non-profit organization SAGE Canada. After seeing the resources that Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone and Fashion Zone had to offer, they waited until they had continuous revenue coming in and joined the Fashion Zone, which provides space and training to fashion startups.

Since then, Gimme360 has released fly knit hoodies, classic joggers, scoop tees and a journal.

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