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Karen Walker turns her Newmarket store into a charity shop

  • Design
  • June 13, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
Karen Walker turns her Newmarket store into a charity shop

A mini pop-up located in Karen Walker’s ‘Playpark’ Newmarket store will offer not premium fashion, but a selection of vintage hand-knitted garments from the Dove Hospice charity shop. All money raised from sales of the handknits will go to Dove Hospice.

The initiative will be run from 13 to 16th June. It’s inspired by a 2016 visit Walker made to the Remuera Dove Hospice Shop, when she took it bags of clothes following the death of her mother. She was so touched by the experience that she wanted to help raise awareness of the charity.

“The staff were great, and there was such respect for the process of giving up these clothes and for the life stories that my mother’s wardrobe held,” Walker says.

The handknits on sale were selected by Walker and the Dove Hospice Shop teams before being drycleaned. The offering features woolen sweaters, cardigans and vests.

Future Dove Hospice and Karen Walker collaborations will see Walker’s selections of denim, vintage blouses and more.

Julie McCarthy, the executive director of Dove Hospice, appreciates that the Playpark pop-up will raise the profile of their six stores throughout Auckland as well as their Trade Me store and the “amazing, recycled fashion gems” that can be found.

“This collaboration is a leading example to other businesses of the role they can play in growing a compassionate community through creative partnerships.”

We asked Walker more about the partnership.

You’re stepping outside the norm by supporting Dove Hospice Shops with this campaign – it’s not the standard ‘luxury brand x fast fashion retailer’ collab. Tell us about why you’ve chosen this collab and structured it the way you have.

It’s the opposite of a fast fashion collaboration really. This partnership is about raising awareness around Dove Hospice’s great stores and work as well as raising funds for them to go towards the services they provide. It’s also about continuing our ongoing focus around loved clothes lasting. We want to see well designed, well made clothes have long lives and it’s no coincidence that our first pop-up with Dove Hospice focuses on hand knits as these items are so special, beautiful and full of love. 

Was there any concern that associating your premium brand with secondhand goods from a charity shop chain would result in brand damage?

Definitely not. This partnership fits perfectly with our belief that quality clothes that are loved will last decades in one, or several, wardrobes. 

It’s not too often that we see second-hand shops/charity shops leading the conversation in retail, but it seems as if now that sustainability and the ‘circular economy’ is becoming more mainstream, the knowledge they’ve long been accruing in that area is becoming more valued by the rest of the industry. What do you think mainstream and premium retailers can learn from charity shops?

That “new” doesn’t necessarily mean “good’ and vice versa.

Do you believe it’s possible for a retailer to be truly sustainable while still feeding trend cycles with fast fashion product?

I don’t know. Trend cycles and fast fashion aren’t the areas I work in so I don’t really have a point of view in that area.

How long do you see the current consumer interest in sustainability lasting? Would you characterise it as a trend, or a genuine shift in perspective?

I think, and hope, that it’s a genuine shift in perspective.

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  • Courtney Devereux
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