ROME — As far as fashion store openings go, it was a low-key affair. There were no celebrities, no Champagne, not even a representative from Trussardi, the luxury Italian brand that had supplied the store with its merchandise.
Then again, this was no ordinary store.
MODiAmo, which opened last week in Rome’s San Giovanni neighborhood, is a new initiative from Caritas Rome, the Catholic charity that provides aid for the poor and needy. The store sells excess merchandise — clothing, shoes and accessories — donated by fashion houses at a deep discount because of minor imperfections.
Trussardi is the first brand to champion the initiative and has pledged to donate merchandise “for the coming years,” the company said in a statement, adding, “No-waste is a key part of the company’s sustainability policy.”
At the store’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Rev. Benoni Ambarus, the auxiliary bishop of Rome, said that his thoughts were with “the people that we will help to get back on their feet thanks to this initiative.”
“Nothing is wasted, and everyone can be valued,” he added.
In addition to giving “new life” to items that would normally end up in landfills or incinerators, the shop also offers job trainings and apprenticeships to “vulnerable people,” said Giustino Trincia, the director of Caritas Rome.
Many Italian fashion companies are searching for ways to reduce their environmental impact and help charities. Brunello Cucinelli has supported the United Nations refugee agency, U.N.H.C.R., both financially and with garments. Moncler has donated garments to U.N.H.C.R. and UNICEF, the U.N. Children’s Fund.
When the war in Ukraine broke out in February, U.N.H.C.R. appealed to the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the organizer of Milan Fashion Week, and raised some 5 million euros for refugees, said Giovanna Li Perni, the head of private partnerships and philanthropy at U.N.H.C.R. In addition to Trussardi and Moncler, donors included Armani, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Donatella Versace (personally), Etro, Ferragamo, Furla, Gruppo Prada, Golden Goose, Gucci, Max Mara, Missoni, Valentino and Zegna.
Caritas also runs a flea market stocked with unclaimed parcels donated by Poste Italiane, the national postal service. The unclaimed parcels used to end up in landfills and incinerators, said Massimiliano Monnanni, a manager for Poste Italiane who is also the president of ASP Asilo Savoia, the charity that donated the storefront for MODiAmo. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of parcels, containing all sorts of things,” Mr. Monnanni said.
On opening day, shoppers trickled into MODiAmo, scouring the shelves for bargains. Stefano Chiari, 58, who oversees nurse vaccination programs for the local health authority, tried on a T-shirt emblazoned with a Trussardi logo (a greyhound) while his dog — also a greyhound — waited patiently outside the dressing room. He paid 15 euros for a past-season T-shirt that retailed for around 60 euros. “The clothing is excellent, the price is right, and it goes to a charitable cause, so you spend more willingly,” he said.
Maria Antonietta De Vico, an English teacher, thought the initiative was “a good thing” and was happy to buy “knowing that it will be useful to those in need.”
By the afternoon, around 2,000 euros’ worth of merchandise had been sold. Marco Ippolito, a Caritas manager, said he hoped other fashion brands would see the benefits and participate.
MODiAmo doesn’t keep every size in stock, so finding an article that fits “can be a question of luck,” said Stefania Visca, the store manager. Ms. Visca was also in charge of the window display: two female mannequins dressed in Trussardi with a Christmas tree in between.
One mannequin was shoeless, “representing the people who are in difficulty,” she said. The other was a well-dressed customer, clad in white trousers, a pearl-gray wool sweater and black coat. “A woman who buys Trussardi from me because she knows she is contributing to a charitable cause to help people in need,” she said. “It’s a wonderful message.”