Boutique by Shelter

HemingwayDesign have been working with Shelter on the interiors for their boutique stores since 2016. In 2019 we had the opportunity to work on the interiors for their new flagship store in London’s coolest new retail and restaurant district - Coal Drops Yard.
Type: Interiors
Date: 2019

We were especially excited to be involved in this project as it’s the first time we’ve seen a charity shop included in the line-up for a premium shopping district. As regeneration specialists, we strongly believe that charity shops are an important part of a modern mixed retail offer. Whilst the retail industry as a whole has been in decline, charity shops’ sales are 22% higher than pre-pandemic trading. Today, second hand shopping has become seen as a sustainable alternative to the wasteful and polluting fast fashion industry.

Shelter decided that this ‘Boutique by Shelter’ flagship had to be different. The concept was to have carefully curated stock which showcases the best donations including designer and vintage fashion, high quality jewellery, accessories and homewares. This meant our brief was to create a different look that would suit the stock and the inspirational location.

Our approach to this unique space was to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, so this looks unlike any other charity shop you’ve ever seen. We wanted to show that shopping consciously can extend from buying pre-loved to repurposing the unloved and unused to reduce waste in the construction of the shop itself – to prove that waste need not be wasted.

The concept centres on ‘modern salvage’, creating a crisp, contemporary, and uncluttered space using new and reclaimed construction materials, much of this being material from the Coal Drops development itself that would otherwise have gone to waste. Found shell finishes have been retained – bare brick, grey plaster, concrete floor complete with paint splashes along with the exposed ductwork and track lighting allow visibility of the existing structural metal ceiling to give an urban industrial aesthetic harking back to the building’s industrial past.

The merchandising design is simple and effective including hanging rails from repurposed Hera fence panels and terracotta drainage pipes, shoe displays from piled paving slabs and bold central plinth in black engineering bricks providing the backdrop for an eclectic mix of products.

Shelter’s political messaging comes to the fore through a striking perimeter lightbox gallery of iconic posters retrieved from Shelter’s archive paired with constantly changing LED ticker tape text, backed by a bold wall in Shelter’s iconic bright red.

On its opening weekend sales figures exceeded expectations 7-fold with the store attracting high footfall and high-quality donations especially from the surrounding residential developments.

The store’s opening in February 2019 coincided with the release of a report from a cross party committee of MPs calling for a penny tax on fast fashion to help offset its huge carbon emission – more than the aviation and shipping industries combined. In this location and at this point in time, ‘Boutique by Shelter’ is not just another charity shop. It’s representative of a revolution in fashion retail, where an increasing number of savvy consumers are tuning into sustainable fashion and choosing to buy second-hand bargains over new whilst supporting good causes and protecting the environment.

This project was longlisted in the Dezeen Awards in the Retail Interiors category.

“Secondhand designer and higher-high-street pieces sit alongside carefully chosen vintage clothes at this boutique in Coal Drops Yard. The only signs that this is a charity shop rather than a high-end boutique like its neighbours are the prices — although the screen displaying statistics and information about homelessness offers a good reminder that shopping here makes a difference.” 

– The Times

The groundbreaking concept created for this shop has surpassed everyone’s expectations. The shop became a flagship for Shelter and inside of Kings Cross area bringing new corporate partnerships and general interest of customers and tourists alike

Thiago Ferreira, Shelter Retail Project Manager