Gerard McKenzie-Govan - The Blankfaces

Gerard is tackling homelessness with clothing brand, The Blankfaces

The Blankfaces is a UK fashion label aimed at ending homelessness. The enterprise was launched in 2017 by Gerard McKenzie-Govan, with the help of a £5000 Start It award from Firstport.

The Blankfaces gives the homeless community a platform to tell their story, with designs developed in workshops run by fashion students alongside homeless individuals. The result is a bold clothing line, designed to get people thinking and talking about homelessness.

Gerard McKenzie-Govan wearing one of The Blankfaces 'People Make Mistakes' t-shirts
The brand was launched with their ‘People make mistakes' campaign – a take on ‘People make Glasgow'

Gerard initially ran ad-hoc classes by himself, engaging with people in a local shelter. Over the past year his business has grown and he now works alongside 15 volunteers to run weekly classes for up to 20 homeless people.

The Blankfaces range (now with four different designs each inspired or designed by the homeless community) is now stocked in three shops across Glasgow and they hold a pop-up shop in the Argyle Street Arches at the weekend.

The enterprise was set up as a CIC in March 2018 and Gerard went on to receive Build It funding in October 2018 to help him to grow the business.

The Blankfaces was just a little idea I had. It would still be a little idea if it wasn't for Firstport.

Gerard is already developing additional products – with a jacket and two casual tops in the making. He wants to run more workshops, including paid classes for individuals who want to learn about block printing, sewing and garment customisation.

In the future, Gerard wants to grow his business into other parts of Scotland and eventually sees the Blankfaces as a global brand, helping to change perceptions of homelessness. He said:

Our aim is to reverse social decay and change perceptions of homelessness. For too long people have thrown money at the issue and this hasn’t helped. We want to tell stories through our brand and get people thinking and talking about homelessness, at the same time as being on trend. People will buy our brand because it looks good and they want the item, instead of buying us out of pity. I see The Blankfaces becoming a global premium brand, changing perceptions throughout the world.

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