Sarah Leslie is a Board Trustee with 2050 Climate Group and a keen member of The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh. By day an employment lawyer, she is passionate about sustainability and the environment, and how individuals can effect change in whatever sphere they are in, living and influencing others by example. And has uncovered some of her favourite clothes and accessories from previous clothes-swapping parties…
Ever had clothes that you used to love but are now mouldering at the bottom of your chest of drawers? Ever feel ashamed of the environmental impact of producing (and disposing of) fast fashion? Ever thought to yourself, “I have some really stylish friends, I’d love to steal some of their clothes”?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is “Yes!” then a clothes swapping party might be just up your street. They are easy to organise, fun to take part in, and help you make a more positive impact on the planet: win; win; win.
What’s the concept and how’s it done?
Simply, you gather a group of friends and acquaintances – the more the merrier, within the limits of the space available.
Everyone brings along clothes, shoes, accessories that they no longer love, but which are still in good condition. Your friends probably don’t want your holey socks…
Depending on your motivation for doing it, you can also ask for donations to a charity – after all, attendees will be getting new outfits that they would otherwise have paid for, so it’s a good excuse to raise funds for your favourite cause.
Swaps can be more or less formal in terms of what people can get, but I’ve found that normally people are quite fair in terms of not hoarding lots of things, so after all attendees have arrived and their items are displayed, I would tend to just let it be a free for all with people browsing, trying on, putting back what’s not for them after all, and setting aside what they want to take home.
I tend to forewarn people a month or so in advance e.g. via an Instagram story that I’m going to be doing a clothes swap in the next few weeks/months – this piques interest and avoids all of your friends doing massive charity shop clear-outs and having nothing left to swap!
Set up the space so there are mirrors and room for people to get changed. Encourage people to share what they’re trying on and look for new styles that they wouldn’t normally go for; you never know what might look amazing.
Organise clothes so it doesn’t look like a jumble sale – this can be a bit of a moving goal though as people will be adding to the piles as they arrive. It helps to lay things out on tables (or sofas) in some sort of order, e.g. having dresses in a bedroom, tops on one sofa, bottoms on another.
From experience, you’ll probably be left with quite a few leftover items, so make a plan to drop these off at a charity shop the next day!
And finally… having nibbles and cups of tea available always helps to enhance the atmosphere.