The Discovery Shop: Redefining fashion and creating more birthdays

Seniors and Discovery Shop volunteers Jen Corley and Chloe Park wearing items from the store to raise awareness.

“Shop sustainably, shop discovery.”

A handful of Los Altos High School students walked around campus yesterday wearing pins with these exact words to promote the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop in Downtown Los Altos. The group of students — all store volunteers — each wore an article of clothing from the store to publicize its intersectional mission: redefining fashion through promoting sustainability and contributing to breakthroughs in cancer research.

The Discovery Shop was initially opened as a branch of the American Cancer Society’s efforts to raise money for cancer research. Similar to its counterparts across the nation, the Los Altos based store started off by collecting and selling second-hand items in the name of cancer research.

However, about two years ago, the Discovery Shop at Los Altos put a unique spin on the store: a group of high school volunteers created the “ON TREND” section at the store, featuring clothing items specifically catered to teens.

“We didn’t get many young people in the store,” store manager Laura Breaux said. “The [ON TREND] section is a great way to get younger people to notice us.”

Adapted from the four pillars of the American Cancer Society, the group formed the three pillars of the ON TREND section, emphasizing awareness, community and sustainability.

“The sustainability and awareness aspects of our mission are more obvious since we’re able to educate people while encouraging second-hand shopping,” one of the program organizers and senior at Los Altos High School Chloe Park said. “For the community aspect, we’ve been connecting with local sustainability clubs to hold donation events for our store. Seeing how everyone comes together for this one cause is really inspiring.”

Once the ON TREND section gained momentum, the team started to organize specific monthly ON TREND events where the prices for selected items would be lowered to under $10.

“We’re a better and cheaper alternative to fast fashion for many teenagers,” Chloe said. “And, since our clothes are second hand, we’re combating the fast fashion industry while also aiding in cancer research.”

Ultimately, the ON TREND section has brought in a broader audience for the store as well as increased publicity online.

“Fashion to me is an expression of what makes you happy,” Breaux said. “What you wear reflects how you think about yourself, and if you dress to sustain the planet, that’s a telling sign of character.”