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Woman reimagines thrift store displays for free to prove second-hand clothing is 'just as stylish'

Rose demonstrated how little tweaks in the store's window and interior display can alter people's perception of them.

Woman reimagines thrift store displays for free to prove second-hand clothing is 'just as stylish'
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Michael Morse

Marketing is as important for charity shops as it is for other retail brands. The more people get attracted to a charity, the more they have the opportunity to spread their generous services out into the world. One essential marketing tool for charity retail is “window dressing,” a form of visual merchandising that employs styling the window display. A sustainable fashion stylist from Brighton, England, is on a mission to help the charities in her area accomplish this styling and raise their repertoire among people. Ellie Rose (@elll.rose) shared a TikTok video in March 2023 showing how she styled a prominent charity thrift store, and the video became highly popular.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Cottonbro

“I was recently walking past some charity shops and I realized, I think you guys need just a little bit of help with some of the styling,” Rose, who studied fashion at college and university said in the video, adding, “So I thought I’m gonna volunteer and ask a few shops if they need help.” As her voiceover played in the video, she was seen walking inside a shop and checking out some apparel hanging on a clothstand. “And a lot of them said yes,” she revealed. The video currently has more than 9 million views and 1.4 million likes.

Rose said she’d be starting her styling with the thrift store run by the British Heart Foundation. According to its website, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is the largest charity retailer in the UK funding research related to heart health. They have 750 shops and stores around the country where people can donate goods, and grab a bargain to help them fund even more research.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | cottonbro
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Cottonbro

In the viral upload, Rose, with her friend Scarlett Elizabeth, toured through the thrift store and decided to modify the mannequins at the window display. The clip displayed two mannequins covered in vintage-style dresses. One wore an off-shoulder midi dress while the other appeared to be wrapped in a full-length floral print gown. “These are two mannequins that were outside on the window,” Rose said describing them.

“It’s a really busy street outside. So many people are seeing these. So we started taking apart the displays and moving things around. We really wanted to get some nice items in the window, some of their best items to pull as many people as we possibly can,” she exclaimed delightfully while flashing a set of watches and colorful clips in front of the camera. She undressed one of the mannequins, and then the camera panned through the store’s interiors, capturing the store’s collection of clothing and accessories. “There was so much to choose from,” Rose said while holding a maroon leather women’s bag in her hands. 

With this, she picked a chocolate-brown trench coat from a hanger and slipped it over one of the mannequins. Soon, she replaced the second mannequin’s dress with a beary-brown fur coat. “I was super happy with how they turned out,” she said. The fashionistas also styled a little display inside the store with a half mannequin dressing it with a black blazer and bright red scarf. Rose described that earlier she and her friend had collected a lot of styling inspiration from Pinterest, and made boards of how they wanted to dress the mannequins. Apparently, people came to like that too.

Image Source: TikTok | @liluziflirt1
Image Source: TikTok | @liluziflirt1

For instance, @bookskeleton commented, “I’m a visual merchandising student and love this idea! I might try this in my area!” @mhn21219 recalled an experience, “There’s a charity shop near me that also has an amazing window display. Always wonder if it has influenced me to like that shop the most.”

Image Source: TikTok | @im_samata
Image Source: TikTok | @im_samata

It took Rose and her friend four hours to put together the styled displays for both of the stores, Rose told Business Insider. She hadn’t worked with mannequins before, which made the task a lot more challenging. "I'm sure it will get easier and quicker as I practice," she added, "Hopefully this showed some people that buying secondhand can be just as stylish as buying new," Rose said. Since this styling video, she has been posting multiple such videos where she styles the displays of thrift stores, adding pops of inviting vibes and fashionable touches to attract people's attention as they pass by.

@elll.rose 📍British Heart Foundation - London Road, Brighton @Scarlett Elizabeth #charityshop #styling #sustainablefashion ♬ Twin Me - Get Mi


You can follow Ellie Rose on TikTok for content related to sustainable fashion and thrift bargains.

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