Du, Linting, Cassidy, Tracy Diane and Cassidy, Thomas (2010) The Transformation of a Charity Shop into a Specialist Fashion Store. In: International Federation of Fashion & Textiles Institutes (IFFTI) 2010, 22nd-26th March 2010, Taiwan.

More than ten years ago, a Guardian columnist observed a growth in the charity shop sector due to an increase in the number of such outlets on the high streets of towns and cities in the UK. The Guardian more recently reported on a new charity store image evidenced by brand-new charity fashion boutiques being launched by Oxfam in London. This new mode of charity store sold selected re-styled and re-designed items created by young designers from the London College of Fashion. The article stated that ‘the charity was taking its first step towards a more fashion-conscious image: away from the slightly battered shoes and oversize floral skirts it's known for and into the world of designer one-offs and couture accessories’ (Freeman, 2008). It is unquestionable that charity shops have the potential to offer good value fashion to people on a budget as well as attracting fashion-conscious customers. However, if the charity shop is to make the most of this opportunity then certain retail practices are in need of change. The aim of this research was to explore the current trend of UK charity retailers upgrading towards a new target market through the launching of specialist fashion stores and to examine effective strategies for charity shops to achieve up-market fashion retailing. Three retail models from the literature review were used and the research makes use of illustrated visual evidences to demonstrate the performance of charity shops compared to up-market fashion stores. Structured observations, photography and semi-structured interviews were used to develop a new ‘Mannequin Model’ to provide a strategy for charity shops wanting to move into the mid-upper levels of the fashion market. A synthesis representation of localisation and specialisation was found to have potential for launching a specialist fashion outlet in the charity retail sector.

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