New clothing alliance trades fashion for warm-fuzzies

At some point, we’ve all had a bit of a wardrobe clean out and chucked a plastic bag filled with mangey old garments in the clothing recycling bin, left it outside the op-shop, or, God forbid, just thrown it in the wheelie bin. But Fashion Trade, a new initiative from Country Road and Red Cross hopes to change all that.

Paul Scoringe, the national marketing and communications manager for the New Zealand Red Cross says the mutually beneficial campaign, which is running across social media, online, mainstream media, in-store collateral, windows and visual merchandising, is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region and was conceived to raise more money for the community and reduce landfill by encouraging people to recycle their pre-loved Country Road clothing and accessories.

“If people bring better clothes in, we can raise more money. So if they’ve got a Country Road item, they get a $10 voucher. It’s going to mean the clothing we get will be of higher quality, and the voucher [which can then be put towards the next $50 Country Road purchase]is a nice incentive.”

He says only a very small percentage of the clothes donated to the 38 Red Cross shops in New Zealand, one of which opened today, are of acceptable quality for re-sale. In fact, he says it currently has to import garments from Australia because they can’t get enough good quality clothes. So, with plans to open another four stores in New Zealand this year, he says this strategic partnership will help to ensure supply and will play an integral role in strengthening Red Cross’ retail presence. Added to that, with a database in the hundreds of thousands, Country Road can also help spread the charity’s message much further.

Scoringe says the one-year plus arrangement is not an exclusive one with Country Road, so he hopes this first effort will then extend to other major clothing retailers looking to earn a few cause-related marketing points, which he says is a growing trend in many areas.

“Big business wants to align with charities to be seen as good corporate citizens. The strength of Fashion Trade is it has so many connection points – brand alignment, fundraising, payroll giving, volunteer opportunities and product donation. It’s the sort of marketing partnership that shows how brands can align and leverage successfully off each other’s strengths and brand equity and raise significant income for a charity in order to help that cause – in this case Red Cross. And hopefully it will stimulate more businesses to seize the opportunity and market themselves this way.”

The funds raised by Fashion Trade will help provide community services such as the Breakfast in Schools, which serves a healthy breakfast to Kiwi school kids who would otherwise go without and Meals on Wheels, which provides a warm meal to an elderly or house bound person.

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