By Aimee Chanthadavong

Expected to begin trading online by the end of October, the r.e.a.l store that has been operating since September is bringing a new meaning to designer retailing.

The Sydney-based store showcases social, ethical and sustainable designs that support international charities and causes.

Owner and founder of the r.e.a.l store Virginia Bruce told Retailbiz that she has always been committed to creating an international brand embedded with philanthropy in mind.

“The main inspiration was to be able to present beautifully designed products without compromising the creativity of the design side that did have a positive message or create a message for social change,” she said.

“I liked the idea of merging of creating beautiful products that would also have positive impact on the consumer.”

“It’s also about creating a brand that has the power to impact people in ‘paying it forward’ without having to stretch much.”

All the brands and products – clothing, accessories, homewares, furniture, jewellery, candles, stationery or artwork – sold at the store are selected by Bruce to ensure they communicate a message for humanity. It’s also ensuring that the products are made in ethical and sustainable environments, without compromising a sense of design aesthetic. The goods are sourced from Turkey, Kathmandu, Bali, Oregon (USA), China, Vietnam, Japan and Australia.

At least ten per cent of the store’s sales are used to support these programs that promote community development including indigenous literacy, education of children displaced in the Congo and prisoner rehabilitation.

According to Bruce, the store is also about giving a platform for inspiring human potential.

“The r.e.a.l store is very much about people. The concept is about wanting to give back to the world and we are very much on that platform in the spirit and humanity the causes came through,” she said.

“We asked our students from UNSW through COFA to design an ordinary product with an original message. Not only are the designers receiving a hands up in the world, we also trying to link that process by helping other communities reach their potential through mentoring or education.”