In 2014, several St Andrews students founded re:fashion, a business dedicated to providing the community with discounted designer clothing, after drawing inspiration from an enterprise creativity module in the School of Management, disappointment with the amount of clothing in landfills, and experience re-selling charity shop clothing on eBay.
Re:fashion, which re-sells students’ second-hand clothing at more affordable prices, held its third seasonal sale on 16 November at Parliament Hall. This event, featuring about 500 pieces of clothing ranging from knitwear to dresses, attracted hundreds of students, many of whom arrived early and formed a line that wound down South Street. The majority of clothing came from brands like Top Shop, Zara and J. Crew, although designer clothing and more unique items were also sold.
“[We had] random boutique stuff, which is where a lot of the interesting pieces come from,” re:fashion director Kirsty Gordon said. “I think because St Andrews is so cultural, that’s where we get a lot of interesting brands.”
In the months before the sale, members of re:fashion collaborated to organise sellers, prepare items and publicise the event.
All of the clothing sold through the sale comes from student sellers who receive 70 percent of the proceeds. This year, in an attempt to professionalize the event, re:fashion created a website that allowed sellers to indicate their interest in participating.
Mary Chan, who works on outreach for re:fashion, said the quantity of items given by sellers dropped this year, but the quality went up. She attributed this trend partly to the new website.
Ms Gordon agreed, saying the website attracted “people who really wanted to do it, rather than [people who say], ‘Oh, here’s a bag of clothing.’”
To promote the event, re:fashion organised a photoshoot featuring items available at the sale. They posted the photos, along with quotes about fashion, in the days leading up to the sale.
“[This is the] majority of what we do leading up to the event,” Ms Chan said, “trying to create that sort of brand awareness and brand appeal of having a kind of luxury shopping experience.”
These aspects of the planning process are key elements of re:fashion’s evolution, with members working to adhere to their core missions of sustainability and charity in addition to setting the correct professional tone.
In previous sales, re:fashion has donated a portion of its proceeds to charities like the St Andrews Charities Campaign. This year, the charity aspect of the sale comes from donating unsold clothing to Save the Children, a group that aims to provide clothing for Syrian refugees.
In terms of creating the right atmosphere, Ms Chan said re:fashion’s goal was: “to increase the whole feel of having a shopping experience rather than just going in, having a quick browse, and then [leaving]. We want shoppers to stay there a little bit longer and actually enjoy themselves.”
Additional entertainment, including tables with hand-popped popcorn and mocktails for sale, as well as live music performances, helped create this ambiance.
Event attendee Leia Moran said she liked the live music aspect, as well as the broad range of apparel. She spent £19 on a Zara blazer, a sweater and a scarf and said, “I feel like these pieces were definitely a bargain because I couldn’t have found better prices at a charity shop, plus the clothing styles were more targeted towards students.”
This description falls in line with re:fashion’s reputation as, according to Ms Chan, an opportunity to buy “really high quality stuff at very affordable prices.”
Building this reputation of affordability and style has required the entrepreneurial skills of all members of the re:fashion team.
Ms Chan said: “What makes the whole thing entrepreneurial is the fact that we started the idea… around a table talking about how we were going to plan this, what is going to work, and now continuing on it feels like it’s matured quite a bit.
“[We’re] passing that vision on to new team members, learning from mistakes that we’ve made or improving on what we’ve already done, and just thinking of new and innovative ways of doing things all the time.”