IT'S an enterprise that’s somewhat baffling; what’s the point of a shop where you can’t buy anything? But The Empty Shop fired the imaginations of passers-by on opening in 2014 and, following a successful run last year, is back from 22-31 January. 

The Empty Shop is the perfect opportunity to spring clean your closet and transform someone’s life for the better


The charitable project-slash-fashion initiative encourages shoppers to donate pre-loved clothing, which is then styled into key looks by local fashion experts and put on display. The space is emptied and redesigned daily, with clothing donated directly to disadvantaged people in Manchester by local charity Mustard Tree or sold at exclusive fundraising events.  

And the emptiness concept?

To stress the importance of giving, rather than taking, and perhaps put viewers in the shoes of those who don’t have the money to afford decent clothing. With 600,000 in poverty in Greater Manchester, that’s a lot of people. 

The innovative idea was conceived in Brazil’s Sao Paulo and has since been adopted by four countries. Bought to the UK by shop and bar fitters Clarke Gough, Manchester’s Empty Shop has seen more than 15,800 items of clothing donated over the last two years; including over £45,000 worth of brand new items from N Brown Group PLC, AKA clothing, SimonandSimon and luxury boutique Black White Denim. 

The Empty Shop Manchester ArndaleThe Empty Shop Manchester Arndale

Hollyoaks’ Ashley Taylor Dawson, who will be joined by local fashion experts to launch the 2016 campaign in Exchange Court on Wednesday 20 January, is this year’s official ambassador.

He said: “We all have clothing that we don’t wear anymore, or was a ‘must-have’ purchase at the time; then sits there in the wardrobe with the tags still on. The Empty Shop is the perfect opportunity to spring clean your closet and transform someone’s life for the better. My character in Hollyoaks has worn some questionable outfits at times; I’ll definitely be raiding the Hollyoaks’ wardrobe department and putting a few of Darren’s shirts to good use.” 

Ashley Taylor DawsonHollyoaks' Ashley Taylor Dawson

‘Empty wardrobes’ located in stores like Next, Superdry, Quiz and Jack & Jones will mean that clothing can be dropped off at several points throughout the Arndale this year; making it easier for the public, local businesses and retailers to donate. All garments are welcome, as long as they are clean and in good condition. 

David Allinson, Centre Director at Manchester Arndale said; “The international recognition ‘The Empty Shop’ has received in 2014 and 2015 (this year nominated for the Albert Sussman Community support award) is a testament to the people of Manchester and their generosity. We hope to be able to build on the success of the past two years by maintaining the project in a sustainable way. 

"By providing several collection points at a number of different locations within the centre the aim is to make it more accessible for visitors to the centre; encouraging more spontaneous donations, and engaging as many people as possible.” 

The Empty Shop will launch on Wednesday 20 January and take clothing donations from 22-31. For more information visit