Clothing swaps are happening all the time these days so my first tip would be to investigate if any are happening in your community and go to them! For example, a local shop Lucid Lifestyle recently hosted a clothing swap and back in June Change of Clothes held a clothing swap and panel talk all about sustainability! Edmonton also has YEG Clothing Swap which organizes clothing swaps, and the University of Alberta Student Sustainability Service – Sustain SU – is hosting a 3-day clothing swap during Sustainability Awareness Week October 19 – 23. Any or all of these are a great way for women to let go of something from our closets and get something “new” in return! It’s a win-win! Check the details of each particular event – there may be a small entry fee, requests to bring items ahead of time or other rules of engagement! Lisa from Sustain SU was kind enough to share some tips for organizing BIG swaps and she said it so well I’m quoting her verbatim:
Determine your target audience and capacity for the event, then advertise as much as possible. A beautifully organized event only goes so far without attendees.
Try to partner with thrift shops in the area to donate remaining clothing to, and potentially they can supply your event with supplies such as racks and hangers
Collaborate with like-minded organizations to increase reach and provide a fresh perspective
Try to provide a private space where people can try on clothes with a private mirror
Try your best to make the space as inclusive as possible. The gender and sexual diversity organization on campus recommends that clothes not be divided by gender, but instead be divided by clothing categories such as t-shirts, skirts, shorts, etc.
If sustainability is a goal of the event, try to provide participants with education surrounding the issues of fast fashion and ideas about how to incorporate sustainability into their future fashion decisions.
Set out guidelines to what items are acceptable or not acceptable to bring to the swap. For example, will you accept sponsored event t-shirts? shoes? jewelry? Will there be a theme, such as business clothing swap or athletic clothing swap?
Provide a recycled token in exchange for clothes that people can spend later when they choose the items they will take home with them (we use bottle caps!)
I like the big public swaps because of the increased variety of styles and sizes. But you don’t have to go big or go home – you can easily host a clothing swap amongst friends! My Splurge Sorority has a standing swap – each time we meet, we bring pieces we are done with and sisters can pick and choose freely. Anything that is not claimed by the end of the evening gets donated. If you are already part of a ladies’ group of some kind, consider adding a standing swap to your gatherings as a minimal-planning-required way to swap. This fits perfectly with anyone doing Konmari tidying – you might have some fine garments that just don’t spark joy in you… but they likely will for someone else!
Of course, it is tons of fun to host a party specifically devoted to swapping clothes! I have attended small clothing swap parties before and here are some tips:
- Have wine and snacks! Make it a potluck if you want to share the prep.
- Invite guests to wear a tank top and leggings/tights for easy trying on. Have a bathroom and/or bedroom available as a fitting room but put out a full-length mirror because some of us h
ave no dignity can’t wait our turndon’t mind trying things on in the open.
- If you want to specify the kind or number of items you’d like guests to bring, go for it. I prefer leaving it open as to what people can bring and what people can take – it all evens out! I only specify that swap items should be things that are clean and in good repair.
- Take nothing personally at a clothing swap. If your items aren’t snatched up, that doesn’t mean you have bad style. It’s not about you. Now go have a glass of wine.
- Unless you only have size 0 model friends, don’t worry about trying to invite friends of different sizes. Invite away and let them make the decision whether to participate. In my experience, sisterhood of the traveling pants is a real phenomenon! Pieces that fit me end up fitting my differently-sized friends. Go figure. If you encourage people to bring bags, shoes and accessories, all guests should be able to find something!
- With a small party, you likely do not need a formal order or way of taking turns to go through the pieces. In my experience, people jump in when they feel ready and meanwhile enjoy watching others go through the pieces – everyone loves to give an opinion on whether a piece works for you and share their styling tips. If more than one person ends up wanting the same item, I suggest a vodka shot contest. Or rock paper scissors. Whatev.
- Have a plan for donating the unclaimed items and have some reusable bags ready for guests to take home their new pieces!
I have a number of pieces that I will be taking with me to the UofA Sustain SU Clothing Swap Oct 20 – 22… These are all good pieces that I liked enough to buy. I’m swapping them because the fit isn’t quite right, the style isn’t quite right or they just don’t spark joy for reasons unknown.
Jessica, I hope you have an amazingly successful clothing swap! I wish I could come! That reminds me of tip #8 – invite me! I’ll bring the vodka.