Business partner: TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK

The clothing retailer links up with the cancer charity

Charlotte Church: supporting the campaign
Charlotte Church: supporting the campaign

One reason people donate clothes to charity shops, says Simon Ledsham, Cancer Research UK's trading, events and operations director, is to clear some space in their bulging wardrobes. "But in an economic downturn, if they are not buying new they aren't necessarily getting rid of old," he says.

Helen Gunter, head of communications for the clothes retailer TK Maxx, agrees, saying that with job insecurity, static wages and a rising cost of living, the British consumer has recently faced tough times.

But the biennial Cancer Research and TK Maxx clothes collection campaign, Give Up Clothes for Good, has confounded the economic trends. Running for only one month in April this year, the campaign raised £3.1m - £500,000 more than when it first ran in 2010. The campaign asked people to donate unwanted clothes at TK Maxx shops using special Cancer Research bins. The photographer Jason Bell shot celebrity supporters of the campaign, including the singer Charlotte Church.

Part of the reason for its success is that TK Maxx, which sells well-known brands at reduced prices, is better placed to withstand the recession. But Ledsham thinks the influx of clothing was also down to the relative ease of donating to TK Maxx stores, which are often located in shopping centres or out-of-town retail parks.

And the demographic of the shop's customers was also valuable to Cancer Research. Ledsham says: "The profile of a TK Maxx shopper is someone who changes their wardrobe frequently, so the type of clothing that we got was still fairly fashionable and very saleable for us."

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