Giving homeless people the same dignity afforded to paying customers, The Street Store is a rent-free temporary store that provides poor neighborhoods with free clothes and fashion advice.
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Those in poverty or without a home don’t enjoy the same privileges as everyone else — while the average US consumer spends nearly USD 2,000 on fashion items each year, the poor can barely afford a coat for the winter months. In South Africa, social inequality means that more than half of children live in poverty despite it being the wealthiest nation in the continent. Giving homeless people the same dignity afforded to paying customers, The Street Store is a rent-free temporary store that provides poor neighborhoods with free clothes and fashion advice.
Rather than rely on brick and mortar, The Street Store instead uses cardboard branding to set up its outlets in public venues and on the sidewalk, after gaining council permission. Each store is stocked with donated clothes, and the cardboard doubles as stands and hangers to present the items much like a typical fashion store. Although all of the items are free for the poor to take, volunteers are on hand to give customers advice on which fashions might suit them best. On the day of the first store opening on Somerset Road in Cape Town, around 1,000 homeless people visited and walked away with a new outfit — for some, the first they’d been able to choose themselves for a long time.
The concept relies on charitable donations, but those wanting to get involved can either volunteer for existing Street Stores, or even pledge to set up their own by simply printing off the branding available from the website.
The Street Store isn’t the first innovative fashion pop-up we’ve seen — The Exchange is another store that doesn’t accept money, only pledges to donate organs for medical purposes. How else can the retail model be re-appropriated for charitable causes?