Fashionistas with a conscience

Dominican nuns run luxury-brand thrift store

Editorial Staff
October 30, 2008

Thrift shopping is not just for the penny wise: it is also a good deed, providing funds for charity and keeping usable goods out of garbage dumps. It is a way to update one's wardrobe for a fraction of the price, especially if the clothes on the racks sport high-end, luxury labels like Gucci and Prada as they do at the second-hand clothing shop in the town Iolo, near Prato.


Run by Dominican nuns, the thrift store is fully stocked with designer brand names at ‘bargain basement' prices. The clothing sold is both new and used, either donated by local residents or sent directly from fashion warehouses in Prato and across Italy. All proceeds go to charity. In an art laboratory, discarded materials and objects are used to make costume jewellery, bomboniere and postcards.


The shop's assistants live with the nuns at the Villa Martelli convent in Iolo. Suffering from a wide range of psychological disorders, the women find working at the store a meaningful rehabilitation experience, says Mother Paola Callotto. She explains: ‘People who suffer from psychological problems, like the 14 girls who live here with us, need to feel useful, and more importantly, do a job that gives them their dignity back. Our society seems to discard people with mental disabilities just like they discard their old and used clothes. Instead, the girls who work in the store and in the laboratory prove that there is still a lot of beauty in these objects, as there is a lot of beauty in people with psychological disabilities.'


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