A staggering 100 billion items of clothing are made every year. Each item is worn an average of only 5 times before being discarded. As a result, 13 million items of clothing ends up in landfill in the UK alone every single week.
The 80-20 rule (or Pareto’s Law) applies to everything. Your wardrobe is no exception. I can guarantee that you’re wearing 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. Even with a wardrobe as small as mine, I tend to find that I live in either black yoga pants or denim shorts (depending on the location) with a small rotation of tank tops and loose blouses.
One of the best things you can do to keep your wardrobe fresh and sustainable is to attend a clothing swap. And what better way to do that than by organising one yourself?!
It’s no secret that I love a good clothing swap. Clothes swaps have been an amazing resource for me as I travel with only one suitcase. A capsule wardrobe has been the secret to keep me mobile. What better way to refresh your wardrobe than get together with friends (or strangers) to swap out something you won’t often wear for something you will.
Your clothing swap can be very laid back or it can be more formal. Personally, I’m a big fan of the very laid back approach of inviting a small group of friends over for a G&T, a chat and an informal swap.
Organising your clothing swap:
Pick a demographic
Are you going to run your clothing swap for women, men, mums, pensioners, etc? The possibilities here are endless. The more people you have in attendance, the wider the demographic can be.
Decide on a location
Your location will likely be influenced by how many people you are expecting and how well you know them. If it’s going to be a relatively small gathering of friends, you might want to invite them to your place for an informal swap. If you’re planning for more people and don’t know them so well, it can be good to partner with an event space. For example, a local cafe is a great option to do a swap and lunch and may be willing to let you have the space for free if people will be coming for coffee or food. You could also hire out a local space such as a yoga studio or gallery.
Set a date
Pick a date for your clothing swap and try to give guests two weeks’ notice. This helps not only with scheduling, but also allows people some time to sort through their wardrobes for things that they want to swap out.
Decide on an entry fee
Do you need to charge any fees to cover the cost of location rental? Do you have any other set up costs such as buying hangers or rails? Perhaps you just want to raise some money for a cause that’s close to your heart? Decide on a number that will work for what you need and be sure to tell everyone up front if there is a cost associated.
Decide on the rules
Some other things you may want to decide are:
- Is there a maximum or minimum number of items people can bring? You don’t want to have too many or too few items.
- If you’re concerned about it being a fair swap, you might want to think about giving out tokens. For every item a person brings to swap, they get a token. Every new item costs a token.
- Make sure that you remind participants to bring their own bag to make sure that you don’t need to give out pointless plastic bags.
Send out an invite
It could be a Facebook event, email invite or a good old fashioned telephone call. Doesn’t matter. Just make sure that the right people get the message about your clothing swap.
Sort through your own clothes
see our Signature style guide to help you narrow down your closet ahead of the event. Get some clarity on what to clear out.
Day of The Clothing Swap
Free-standing clothes rails can be useful if you have a lot of clothing to be swapped. Otherwise, you can lay things out on tables, other surfaces or even the floor. If there are a lot of items, you might want to divide by type of item and/or size. This will help people to find items that will fit them.
Depending on the size of your clothing swap, it could be a good idea to allow participants 30 minutes to browse the items and look for things that interest them. This can curb some chaos and help everyone to find things they really love.
You might also want to think about offering refreshments to your guests. A cup of tea or a glass of wine does wonders in greasing any social situation and encouraging your guests to stick around for a little while and get to know each other.
After Your Clothing Swap
You’ll likely be left with some items after the swap is over. Make sure that you have an action plan to donate them. Perhaps there is a local women’s shelter that could do with donations, maybe there is a good charity shop near you. The important thing is that the items can go to a good cause and not end up in the bin!
Don’t forget, you’re not just limited to clothes. You can also run swaps for other things such as kids toys, accessories, home appliances, books, CDs and DVDs etc. The possibilities here are as endless as your imagination.
So there you have it – all you need to know to set up your own swap. I’d love to know if you’ve run your own clothing swaps and if you have any other advice for people thinking of doing the same.