Vahan Chamlian

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Vahan Chamlian (Armenian: Վահան Շամլեան, born 1926), is an American-Armenian philanthropist and businessman, and the world's largest dealer of secondhand clothes.[1][2][3][4]

Life and career[edit]

Of Armenian descent, Vahan Chamlian emigrated from Lebanon to the United States in 1957,[3] arriving in the United States with just $20 in his pocket.[5] He eventually founded the company Chamlian Enterprises Inc., which became the world's largest dealer in secondhand clothes.[3] The company employs eight hundred workers in its Los Angeles, Fresno and San Lorenzo locations;[2] he has also opened a factory in Germany.[1] By 1996, Chamlian owned three sorting plants which grossed $78.6 million from the recycling and exporting of used clothing.[1] Some of Chamlian's suppliers include Salvation Army and Goodwill.[2] The largest demand for Chamlian's used clothing comes from Third World countries, in particular West African countries.[2] John, the nephew of Vahan Chamlian, who manages the operations in Los Angeles states the attention to detail is what "makes them the best".[2]

Vahan Chamlian married Anoush, who is also a philanthropist.[3]

He and his wife currently reside in Fresno, California.[3]

Legacy and philanthropy[edit]

In 1975, Vahan Chamlian along with his wife Anoush raised funds to pay for all expenses for the establishment of an Armenian private school in Glendale, California.[3][2][6] The name of the school became Vahan & Anoush Chamlian. The school, located on Lowell Avenue, continues to function till this day.[6] Vahan Chamlian is noted to have taken "pride" in its establishment.[2]

He has been a major contributor to the Armenia Fund, donating as much as $500,000 at a time.[5]

He has been a donator of funds for the publication of Armenian related books.[7]

Vahan Chamlian has met the former president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Hansen, Karen Tranberg (2000). Salaula : the world of secondhand clothing and Zambia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 113. ISBN 9780226315812. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wilson, Janet (July 28, 1997). "Turning Donated Rags Into Riches". LA Times. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bulbulian, Berge (2000). The Fresno Armenians : history of a diaspora community. Fresno, CA: Press at California State University, Fresno. p. 174. ISBN 9780912201351. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Fresno, Calif., Businessman Proposes New Downtown Office Building.". Fresno Bee. August 19, 1997. 
  5. ^ a b "Vahan Chamlian $78Million-A-Year Selling Old Clothes!". 4 Small Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "About Us". Vahan & Anoush Chamlian School Official Website. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Manukean, Artak (1986). The Armenian Church Feasts. New Hye. Retrieved 9 March 2013. The publication of this book has been possible through the generous donation of MR. VAHAN CHAMLIAN of Fresno. 

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