Four years into hosting her annual charity pop-up shop, model/actress Toni Garrn is humbled by the sight of nearly 700 items donated by her runway peers to fill the racks in her "Supermodel Flea Market."
"I just tell the girls please send me your stuff and nobody questions it. It’s always like that; it’s never a problem," Garrn says. The 27-year-old is behind a temporary boutique that sells designer items, donated by today’s top models, at a discounted cost.
The shop — opening in SoHo at 11 Howard hotel this weekend — currently has items (some never worn) for sale provided by Gigi and Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Naomi Campbell. Looking around the pop-up, Garrn mentions hot items include several handbags, leather coats, jumpsuits, jeans, men’s suits and more, by designers like Supreme, Prada, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.
"There’s this amazing bikini that Gisele [Bündchen] gave. It’s so cute!" Garrn says.
Garrn, who also donated her own items, says prices start at $20 and top out around $1,000. Most are around $100.
But her motive isn’t to turn the average New Yorker into a fashionista. It’s to help raise funds for young girls in underdeveloped communities. All the proceeds from the market benefit Garrn’s namesake foundation, formed in 2016, which funds projects bringing accessible education to girls in Africa.
"It really started with my love for Africa," Garrn says. "As soon as you spend more time there, you see how unequal it is. The girls don’t know about their rights to go to school or to marry who they want to marry."
Garrn’s first "Supermodel Flea Market," held in 2015, helped raise more than $20,000. In its second year, she expanded the event to a three-day pop-up during New York Fashion Week, where she raised more than $60,000 for the Toni Garrn Foundation.
Her foundation (with a goal of "empowering girls in Africa") has funded a variety of projects in Uganda, Ghana, Kigutu, Rwanda and Burundi, including the establishment of "Toni Garrn Girls’ Hostels" on school campuses. Garrn says the housing developments allow girls who otherwise wouldn’t receive an education the chance to live safely on school grounds without having to worry about costs or transportation.
"I wish the people donating here could see it. I almost want to invite everyone to come with me," she says. "I see a change in their lives like crazy. I see 500 children being able to go to school for the first time. It’s the most beautiful thing."
The profits from this weekend’s boutique will benefit the ongoing funds needed to maintain an existing "Toni Garrn Girls’ Hostel" in Ghana; the construction of a kindergarten in Uganda; and the support of a women’s hospital in Burundi.
Items are expected to be discounted on Sunday. Anything not sold at the pop-up will be donated to New York City charities. "I really want to make sure the money is used to help."
IF YOU GO: Toni Garrn’s "Supermodel Flea Market" will be open in the library area of 11 Howard hotel Friday (noon to 8 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) 11 Howard is located at 11 Howard St., in Manhattan. Designer items will also be posted daily to Paddle8.com and can be purchased online.