clothes swaps – more than a fashionable trend

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Mon, 2011-10-03 13:21

Conscious Babe talks about the clothes swap she hosted last weekend…

Emma tries on as Mira foragesEmma tries on as Mira forages
The idea of a clothes swap – an event where unwanted clothes are swapped for new ones – has been spreading amongst women of the western world during the last few years.
Who knew what sparked off this trend: be it the recession, the spreading of environmentalism, or a silent revolution against the infectious ‘consumerism’ monster, but the implications are countless, from the conscientious shopper aspect to the lightbulb notion of no-money events.

Not only is a clothes swap a great way to interact with other fashionistas in your community, but it also provides women with a very practical opportunity to purge unwanted clothes items, as well as gain new additions to their wardrobe.

It is a generally known cliché that women love dressing up, and clothes swaps are a great way to do so without the burden of the price tag.
It costs almost nothing to throw - only the expense of a rooibos teabag or two - and in regards to marketing, I simply made an event on Facebook, explaining clearly what one might expect from this kind of event.

It was not too easy finding information online about clothes swaps - as it is with most word-of-mouth trends - but I managed to a find a video explaining how to throw an event like this, which I found very useful.
One website claimed that a clothes swap is good because you can come across unique items one might not find in a normal retail store. I also read that in some places they even swap other things, like house ornaments.
I learnt that clothes swaps are deemed green, as they encourage an attitude that our unwanted garments can in fact be re-used instead of thrown away.

Fashion conscious demographic
I know that most women in Cape Town who fall within the demographic of fashion-conscious donate their old clothes to charity, but my question is: how can the poor possibly appreciate the sentiment of those few unpractical fashion-pieces?

‘I think my favourite thing about today was hearing stories about the clothes, as opposed to when you buy clothes from the shop you don’t know anything about them.’ said Tavia.

About 10 girls showed up at mine around 4pm last Sunday afternoon - ranging from their teens to late 20’s - looking like mini Santa’s with their big bags of clothes slung over one shoulder. We poured all the items onto my lounge floor and began the foraging fun of discovery.
There were no tiffs and generally everyone was pleasant and comfortable with one another. Girls who had never met before happily stripped down and donned new outfits.
I realised quickly that one mirror would not suffice for the future clothes swop events, and discussed with those present the concept of including name tags or stricter policies in regards to how many items you can take home with you.

‘It gave me the opportunity to try on clothes that I wouldn’t normally try on, just because they were free!’ said Anna.

Clothes Swop Protocol
We all agreed that with a small clothes swap like this not too much logistical protocol was necessary, but that for a bigger group perhaps it would be worth implementing more structure. As it was, lots of clothes were left at the end without a home, so when everyone had left I scooped up the dregs with plans to take them to a charity shop nearby the next day.

All in all, the response to my clothes swap was very positive, and I was asked a number of times when the next one might be. Watch this space, or throw your own (and be sure to invite me)!

To learn how to throw your own clothes swap event here