Rough Sleepers is a clever new twist on the traditional idea of a charity shop. Working with the same business model, all the proceeds go directly to the social exclusion and homelessness charity Novas, but this is no second-hand store. The rather inconspicuous facade on the main road through Camden Town hides an impressively designed space with a feast of fashion treats inside, and wonderfully friendly assistants who were very happy to guide me around the store and introduce me to the fabulous collections.
The store itself is sensitively designed by Sonoko Obuchi to emulate a shopping trolley, an object that is both the primary choice for many homeless people to transport their possessions, and a striking symbol of our consumer-led culture. A mixture of white walls, metal frame and mirrors, the space puts you inside the shopping trolley and makes you reflect on these themes.
The clothing and accessories on offer come from a range of designers from all over the world, an important point for the charity who are keen to stress this global synergy for their cause. Some designers including Robert Carey Williams, Zest by Ikuko Kato, Not Morris (Kim Jones’ team), and Ramon Barreto have created ranges exclusively for Rough Sleepers, whilst the store also sells a well-chosen range of young designers including Dexter Wong, NOM*d, Sylvia Rielle and Vinti Andrews. Currently also stocking recent LCF graduate Georgie Ichikawa, they are keen to involve graduates too, and to offer help to designers through their studio facilities located at the back of the store.
Yet another clever facet of the store is Rough Sleepers fully functioning studio/ workshop which will soon be home to the store’s four resident designers (including Georgie) who each have bartered deals enabling them to use the space for free.
Having only opened a couple of weeks ago, the store is sure to become a fashion destination for those in NW London, not only due to its unique pieces at great prices (ranging from £30 to £500), but also thanks to the guilt-free shopping it offers. Unlike the marketing ploy of Bono’s project (RED), this scheme has roots within its own community and Novas are making sure that 100% of profits are reinvested in helping the homeless in Camden and across the country. What could be more virtuous than shopping here?!