Bringing wonder to the Liberties

NCAD students reworking charity shop clothes

Previously Loved is a project set up by Ellen Owens, Kerry Gorman and Luke Meehan. The project aims to highlight the lives of clothes in charity shops by giving people a chance to leave a handwritten note on each of their donated items to tell the story of each piece.

Previously Loved sees people leaving handwritten tags on their items as they donate them, which the buyer can then read and know where the item has come from and also its history. One tag reads, ‘I wore this shirt for my first date with my boyfriend & we have been together for nearly 5 years. I hope this brings love like it brought me’.

The group of NCAD students set up Previously Loved as part of an assignment. Ellen said, “What we had to do is go out into the [Liberties] community and place an object of wonder that has context within the community back into it,

“We realised that charity shops are a really important part of this area and maybe a slightly overlooked part even though there is actually so much life in them. Locals always enjoy being in them”.

The tags themselves are all made from recycled paper that the trio found lying around, no materials were bought for the process. With no waste produced from the making of the tags, this further contributes to the charity shop theme of reusing and recycling items rather than starting afresh.

“It would have been strange to put in something high tech or made on a computer,” said Ellen.

NCBI, Enable Ireland and Focus Ireland on Thomas Street are the shops taking part in Previously Loved. The group dropped in over a hundred tags between the shops and have gotten an incredible response. “There have been other shops from around the Liberties getting in contact about the tags”.

“A few of the shops have put up posts on their Instagram’s and things like that so there has been a little bit of a buzz around the project so we are definitely going to be making more tags and getting them out as soon as we can ”.

The project has seen a huge response from students according to Ellen, “NCAD students are always in and out of charity shops”.

The group believes that the project benefits everyone involved, saying that the emotions behind particular items get to be shared while also hugely benefitting sustainability all the while getting Liberties specific replies. Ellen spoke about how there is so much character present in The Liberties as a whole but also in the shops themselves; especially from the older locals who, as they have discovered, are very keen to tell their stories.

As for their future plans, “Our plans for the future of the project is just to continue what we’re doing right now and a lot of the managers are keen to expand the project to other shops, so that’s kind of where we’re going with it for the moment. There is also the possibility of swap shops and those kind of things”.

Ellen praised the response of the community saying, “ They [the shops] seem very interested to be involved and it has been so nice getting down there and meeting people and seeing how much they care about the community and the stories”.

Anyone can get involved in the project through the Previously Loved Instagram page. There are also posters in the various shops currently involved and anyone can get in contact to get some tags or to suggest a shop they think should take part.

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