01 May 2011

At the end of last year I was a guest at the Monotype organised Brand Perfect conference here in London. Part of the day was devoted to an ideas workshop for the textile recycling charity TRAID. While on one hand they have experienced decent growth in shop sales and in their TRAID remade range, they have also suffered from a 30% drop in donations — something we wanted to fix.

By Chris Copping

Hosted by the RSA and held in the spectacular Great Room at RSA House, Brand Perfect presented sessions from our client at Design Council, Kati Price, consultancies Promise and Fjord, and a very interesting talk from Googler Martijn Bertisen.

Just before lunch we were given a quick intro to TRAID before being briefed on a serious problem they have been experiencing over the last year or so. A great opportunity for a good cause to tap into some the UK’s top creatives.


The TRAID name and logo is well known by donators

The challenge

TRAID is a textile recycling charity, they collect the UK’s unwanted clothes for reuse and resale in their chain of 10 London stores, located in hip areas like Camden, Brixton and the perpetually upcoming Dalston. TRAID have also created an up-cycled fashion label known as TRAIDremade, a range of bespoke refashioned and remade pieces reflecting current trends for the fashion and ethically conscious. All profits go to supporting projects fighting global poverty, exploitation and environmental degradation across the textile supply chain in the developing world.

TRAID have had fantastic growth in their sales, but through a variety of reasons have been seriously hit by a 30% drop in donations, the very lifeblood of the charity.

Our simple brief was to come up with cost effective ideas to increase donations of fabric and clothes.

Identifying our target audience

Our campaign targeted the Hoarders and Fashionistas, slightly overlapping groups who firstly TRAID might align themselves with, but crucially selected because they have a lot of underused clothes! According to Company Magazine, ‘Women from London are the nation’s top hoarders, with an average of more than £300 worth of clothes lying unworn in their wardrobes.’

Women from London are the nation’s top hoarders, with an average of more than £300 worth of clothes lying unworn in their wardrobes
Company magazine

Reclaiming fashion

Recognising the great work TRAID and the TRAIDremade brands were doing to align themselves with fashion at the point of sale we felt the same consideration could be applied to a donation campaign.

Our strategy turned the language of the fashion world on its head, reframing it to create a new campaign for TRAID clothing donations. We started the ball rolling with a few initial ideas…

1. ‘The TRAID Summer collection’

Subverting the very idea of a fashion collection, we wanted to create a PR campaign around the idea of a seasonal donation drive.

At the end of summer, an Ice Cream van would visit some select areas in London and around the UK. Willing donators having heard about the van on social media channels would be ready with bag of clothes as the collection passes through their area — an underused service already offered by the charity.

2. ‘That’s so last summer’

Realising the emotional attachment some people have with their clothes, the very idea of someone else wearing their ‘great find’ can put some people off donating. We needed a way to wean people off these underused items.

‘That’s so last summer’ hang tags, given away with magazines or printed at home via Facebook, would be hung on the hanger with the item. These tags would be date stamped with a donation event, six months to a year in the future. If the owners hadn’t worn the item, the tag would still be attached to the hanger as proof of just how rarely worn that ‘oh so wonderful’ top really is.

By starting the detachment process we hope this way of ‘pre-giving’ will lead to multiple cycles of giving and ultimately longer term habit change.

3. ‘The latest must haven’t’

TRAID could team up with ASOS, Net a Porter or any number of partners to include two returns labels in each package from the big retailers. One for returned orders, and a second customers can attach to the packaging to send any unwanted item to TRAID. This guilt free one-for-one exchange could also lead to higher quality items for TRAID shops.

Seamless brand experiences

One of the main takeaways from the event was the importance of a seamless brand experience. A philosophy relevant across all organisations, from the the biggest global corporations to ambitious charities hoping to ever increase the amount of good work they do.

By changing the way they position donations, TRAID can link together their excellent fashion-led sales strategies to work just as hard for them at the other end of their business.