Charity clothing stores turn to Depop and Instagram as they head upmarket with vintage and designer items

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Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a British Heart Foundation retailer in Newcastle.

  • Britain’s charity outlets are altering how they look and making an attempt to attraction to Gen Z prospects.
  • They’re promoting extra vintage and designer garments, placing items on Depop, and flocking to Instagram.
  • They’re fastidiously curating stores and shows to evoke the ambiance of a boutique or vintage store.

Britain’s charity outlets are altering.

They’re promoting extra designer and vintage items, creating listings on Depop, and fastidiously curating their social-media profiles — all focused primarily at interesting to the rising variety of Gen Z customers.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in an Oxfam retailer in Chiswick.

Even earlier than the pandemic, charity outlets had been experiencing a fall in customer numbers and gross sales quantity, Kate Avenell, head of retail growth at Save the Children, informed Insider.

But popping out of the pandemic, prospects confirmed a “significant shift” each to vintage and retro fashions and to charity outlets as more people focused on sustainability, Maria Broomheadsmith, Sue Ryder’s retail gross sales supervisor for the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area, stated.

Donna McGinnigle, venture supervisor on the British Heart Foundation, stated there had been a “huge surge” of Gen Z and scholar customers who have been visiting stores “in droves.”

“Things don’t stay on the shop floor for long,” Avenell added.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Mary’s Living and Giving retailer in Chiswick.

Tamara Sender Ceron, affiliate director vogue retail at market-research firm Mintel, informed Insider that 26% of individuals aged 16 to 34 had used market apps like Depop and Vinted over the previous 12 months.

Ceron added that whereas many Gen Zs are anticipated to proceed to purchase from fast-fashion giants, “there is growing awareness about the impact on the environment and a pushback from some in this generation is likely to turbo-charge the second-hand and rental/subscription markets.”

Charities have cashed in on this. Some have opened stores only for vintage or designer donations. Sue Ryder, for instance, has opened devoted Vintage and Retro stores, whereas Save the Children has partnered with retail knowledgeable and TV persona Mary Portas to create upmarket Mary’s Living and Giving stores.

Three exterior photos of charity shops
The exteriors of a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro store in Windsor; a Shelter Boutique retailer in Peckham; and a Mary’s Living and Giving retailer in Chiswick.

Other stores nonetheless have rows of secondhand clothing from the likes of Topshop, Primark, and H&M, however have an aisle or show particularly for vintage items.

A concentrate on bargain-hunting, altering fashions, and sustainability is driving younger individuals to purchase garments secondhand, the managers informed Insider. Charity outlets usually have a lot decrease costs than vintage stores – and customers get the feel-good issue when they purchase from them, understanding their cash will assist a worthy trigger, the managers stated.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a British Heart Foundation retailer in Newcastle.

Buying on-line on fashion-resale websites is not as a lot enjoyable as scouring charity outlets for bargains, both. “That kind of treasure hunt experience is magic,” Avenell stated.

But Britain’s more than 11,000 charity shops, up to now typically stigmatized and related with aged individuals and low cost, poor-quality items, have had to work laborious to change their picture and cater to what younger customers need.

Shops have been overhauling their interiors to make them extra akin to vintage stores, with employees and volunteers getting coaching on visible merchandising in order that they can curate enticing shows.

Charity shop
Products displayed inside a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro store in Windsor.

This contains utilizing chalkboards, neon indicators, and vegetation to make shows extra enticing. In some circumstances the merchandise are displayed utilizing items of vintage furnishings, like tables, chests, and shelving models – that are typically on the market themselves – and it will possibly really feel extra such as you’re in a boutique than a charity store.

Charity shop
Items displayed on a desk in a Shelter Boutique retailer in Peckham.

Often the clothing shows are peppered with books, footwear, equipment, and bric-a-brac, which drives curiosity within the different items and means shows might be curated to match sure colour schemes, developments, or moods.

Charity shop
The inside of a Mary’s Living and Giving retailer in Chiswick.

The managers informed Insider that they embellish every retailer otherwise, reflecting on the constructing’s architectural options as effectively as the area people, historical past, and individuals of curiosity.

Features embrace painted home windows, murals by native artists, and even a greenhouse in a Save the Children retailer in Glasgow and a mini glass home on the Mary’s Living and Giving retailer in Kew in tribute to the buildings on the close by Royal Botanic Gardens.

“We show up on the high street with a bang,” Avenell informed Insider, including that there was “lots of work on retail design, on the experiential aspect of charity shopping.” 

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Mary’s Living and Giving retailer in Chiswick.

Avenell stated that Save the Children works with native artists who create works such as murals for the stores. She stated that there have been “lots of things going on to really bring spaces to life rather than that cookie-cutter corporate approach.”

Stores have to be fast to adapt their shows to continually altering developments. McGinnigle stated the British Heart Foundation’s stores are fast to faucet into what customers need, with shows each inside and within the window devoted to developments like music festivals such as Glastonbury, the TV collection “Love Island” and “Stranger Things,” and the Kate Bush revival in the summertime.

“Because they can put their hands on such a diverse range of stock, you can pull all that out the back that yesterday probably nobody wanted and today it’s hot topic, it’s at the forefront and they get it out there on the shop floor,” McGinnigle stated.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique retailer in Peckham.

But these retailer codecs do not work all over the place. The managers informed Insider their retro and vintage stores have been largely in city areas with massive scholar populations.

McGinnigle stated the British Heart Foundation had stores with devoted vintage sections in cities together with Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Newcastle – all of that are closely populated by college students. Avenell stated Save the Children developed its Gen Z-focused stores in city areas, and its premium stores with designer items in prosperous markets.

But the stores can promote their items for extra if they checklist them on-line, the place they can attain a a lot wider viewers.

“If something lands in your shop that’s bang on trend, but you are in a traditional village-y town with older people, it’s not necessarily gonna sell,” McGinnigle stated. “Yet, if you put it online, it will be snapped up in minutes.”

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique retailer in Peckham.

E-commerce for charity outlets is totally completely different than for retailers that promote massive batches of recent merchandise.

Listing items on fashion-reselling websites like Depop can take a major period of time and effort for the stores, that are primarily staffed by volunteers. Listings are solely price importing if the items will fetch a major amount of cash.

COVID-19 lockdowns have been a primary catalysts for charities beginning to checklist items on-line. Non-essential retail stores had to shut their doorways for months throughout the pandemic, which the Charity Retail Association estimates value UK charity outlets about £28 million ($32 million) a month.

McGinnigle stated the British Heart Foundation began itemizing items on Depop following a suggestion from a retailer supervisor. She stated a few of the items the charity listed have been vintage however they have been predominantly “hot right now” items, together with coveted items that had offered out at retailers. Individual retailer managers add the items to Depop, McGinnigle stated.

In complete, the British Heart Foundation has offered more than 3,000 items on Depop. Recent gross sales embrace a pair of mint green Nike Air Jordans that offered for £40 (about $46), and a vintage Burberry skirt that went for £50 ($57). 

Oxfam has thousands of items listed on its web site. Some charities are additionally itemizing items on Thriftify, an ecommerce market particularly for charity retailers.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Royal Trinity Hospice retailer in Angel.

Another means charity outlets have been concentrating on Gen Z customers is by fastidiously curating their social-media presence. Gone are the times when every charity simply had one Instagram account – some stores now have their very own pages the place they put up pictures of recent inventory and exhibit the store’s decor.

“It’s a great vehicle for talking to that younger audience,” Avenell stated.

A put up shared by British Heart Foundation (@britishheartfoundation.glasgow)


It’s not simply the stores creating their very own content material. At Sue Ryder, prospects are sharing content material, too, together with posting clips of what they purchase on Instagram and TikTok.

Some individuals select to resell their garments on-line on websites like Depop, Poshmark, and Vinted, the place they can fetch appreciable sums of cash if they’re vintage or designer. But, as the aisles of charity outlets throughout the UK present, lots of people do select to donate them.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Shelter Boutique retailer in Peckham.

Compared to reselling on-line, donating to charity outlets creates a feel-good issue and group spirit, the managers informed Insider.

Broomheadsmith stated that some individuals donated good-quality items as a result of they have been clearing out the house of a late liked one and did not have the capability to promote items on-line whereas they have been grieving. 

And some individuals donating vintage items merely do not realize they’re invaluable, McGinnigle stated. “A lot of it comes from that older customer that’s just clearing out what they were wearing 40 years ago.”

Charity shop
Products displayed inside a Thames Hospice Vintage & Retro store in Windsor.

The one-off nature of donations could make it laborious to keep enticing shows as items are continually offered and new donations are introduced in.

The managers stated that employees and volunteers on the charity store had steerage, and in some circumstances coaching, on how to spot vintage, designer, and on-trend items to showcase — as effectively as on how to value them.

Charity shop
Clothing displayed in a Royal Trinity Hospice retailer in Angel.

“Our shop teams are very much always on the hunt for the treasure,” McGinnigle stated. “Half the fun of it is you never know what you’re going to get.”

“We’ve just got that constant stream of donations coming in all the time, which the guys just then fast track out to the shop floor,” McGinnigle stated. “It’s like an ever-continuing cycle.”

Broomheadsmith stated Sue Ryder analyzed gross sales knowledge to resolve which items to characteristic the place. “Even though it’s a charity, we run the retail side, like I would’ve done as a regional manager at Coast.”

Charity shop
Bric-a-brac displayed in a Shelter retailer in Chiswick.

As effectively as donations of vintage items, a seamstress at Sue Ryder’s Hockley retailer upcycles previous items together with curtains, mattress sheets, and blankets into garments, Broomheadsmith stated.

Some of the designer items, in the meantime, come from company donations. Avenell stated Save the Children had acquired inventory from “high-end” manufacturers together with Vivienne Westwood, Matches, and Alexander McQueen.

Cashing in on the demand for vintage and designer items could possibly be essential for charities as they emerge from the pandemic.

Read the unique article on Business Insider

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