Supermodel Flea Market: Own clothes donated by Naomi Campbell and the Hadid sisters

The sale is raising money to support girls' education across Africa

Gigi Hadid and her sister Bella pose on the red carpet at the 2019 Variety's Power of Women event in New York, U.S., April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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If you've ever wanted to dress like a supermodel, well, now is your chance. When not starring in Spider-Man: Far From Home, German actor and model Toni Garrn is hard at work hosting the annual Supermodel Flea Market, an initiative she set up in New York in 2015.

The 2019 edition kicks off on Monday, August 19, and promises to be the biggest to date. Up for auction are clothes donated by Naomi Campbell, sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Gisele Bundchen, Joan Smalls and Garrn herself.

The Supermodel Flea Market sale came about because, as a model, Garrn soon realised her wardrobe and those of friends were overflowing with beautiful clothes and accessories that most women would love to get their hands on.

Having already spent time in Africa working on various modelling jobs, Garrn had seen first-hand how tough life is for many women and girls across the continent. Faced with the bleak reality of sub-Saharan regions having the highest school drop-out rate for girls anywhere in the world, Garrn experienced her eureka moment.

The model-turned-activist decided these closets full of expensive clothes could be put to better use, and set about asking fellow models to donate pieces to a sale to raise money. The first Supermodel Flea Market charity sale raised a cool $20,000 (Dh73,500) in one evening, and its hostess went on to establish the Toni Garrn Foundation in 2016 to better help the distribution of funds. Suddenly, the one-time girlfriend of actor-turned-environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio found herself spearheading a force for change.

Speaking about the project in an interview with online magazine #legend in 2017, Garrn explained: "I'd been working with Plan International, supporting girls in Africa, and wanted to raise money to help make school life safer and easier to access for young girls. The sale came about because my closet was just overflowing. I think every girl's closet in New York is. Working in fashion, we're lucky enough to be gifted lots of items. Meanwhile, so many people all over the world have one T-shirt they live in, so I thought it was the perfect way to share."

The launch event was so well received that, in 2017, it expanded to London, Paris and Berlin, with the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell emptying their wardrobes in support. Even Liv Tyler, Elie Saab and Kim Kardashian have donated one-off items. To date, the Flea Market has raised tens of thousands of dollars.

This year, the Supermodel Flea Market has partnered with e-commerce site Paddle8 for the first time, which will help co-ordinate multiple online and offline events between Monday, August 19 and |Saturday, November 30. For the cause of raising funds for healthcare and education initiatives for women and girls across Burundi, Rwanda, Ghana and Uganda, everyone has dug deep. Gisele Bundchen has had a spring clean and donated 50 pieces including the Alexander McQueen knuckleduster clutch she carried to the Met Gala in 2011, while Gigi Hadid has gone all out, gifting more than 100 of her personal items.

Between them, Bundchen, Campbell, Garrn, Gigi and her sister Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Amber Valletta and others have sent across 220 pieces from brands including Prada, Chanel, Roger Vivier, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Miu Miu, Vionnet, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Supreme and Victoria Beckham for Target. In short, this is a fashion lover’s dream.

Held at the 11 Howard Hotel in New York, the event is in the form of a pop-up store where shoppers can pick up their treasures from among the 1,000 or so total items offered.

The more upscale and expensive pieces will be available to buy online via a virtual shop that vows to replenish stock three times in the next few months, while 15 to 20 of the most exclusive items will be auctioned to the highest bidder. With the double lure of being high fashion and having been owned by a supermodel, we expect bidding on these to be fast and furious.

For the merely curious, the venue will throw open its doors to the public for the auction preview between Friday, September 13 and Sunday, September 15. Thankfully, there's no need to worry about getting carried away and accidentally selling the house to buy a handbag, as serious bidders and VIPs will be invited to see the collection the day before. Still, there's no reason you can't have your eye on Gigi's gala-worthy McQueen.