How to Hold a Clothing Swap

By Shea Wittig of @conversationswithmysister Small positive acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” - Howard Zinn The stats are in and they aren't good however, Biome has come up with a positive solution in the form of a ‘clothing swap' and you are invited to join in with all the fun! How to hold a clothing swap | Ethical Fashion Australia | Slow Fashion Movement | Biome Eco Stores

What is a clothing swap?

A clothing swap is a fun way to meet new people, keep fashion in the loop for longer and, in this case, gives you an excuse to visit the quirky suburb of Paddington and the flagship Biome store. Biome has proudly sat on the corner of Latrobe and Given Terrace for 13 years and, for just as long, the owner of the successful franchise, Tracey Bailey, has been contemplating adding a collective space to share knowledge and skills. In 2018 this vision became a reality and the clothing swap is the latest activity to be held at the venue. See upcoming clothing swaps and other workshops and events taking place in our Biome Collective space in Paddington here > Many of you would be familiar with the name Marie Kondo who, with the best intentions, has inspired people all over the globe to clear out their clutter, including wardrobes. Her latest series aired on Netflix has had such an impact here in Australia that many Thrift Stores around the country have closed their doors to donations. The purpose of thrift stores is to provide a charitable service to people in need however, with growing overheads including sending 60,000 tonnes of items to landfill every year at the cost of $13M, they are feeling the pressure of disposable and fast fashion trends. The fast fashion model is designed to be just that – fast! Leading retailers aim to have new designs in their stores every three to five weeks and the low prices are designed to appeal to the mass market. In keeping up with these trends Australians alone are throwing 6000KGs of clothing to landfill every 10 minutes and many of these items are still in wearable condition. So, while the conversation begins to filter through addressing the elements (and emotions) behind these consumerism trends, conscious communities are rallying together to provide sustainable solutions - hence a clothing swap. Participating in a clothing swap is one way to begin to restore balance to this cycle, promote the practice of mending, encouraging care with items and create habits of intentionally passing unwanted clothes onto someone else to ‘spark joy'.

How does a clothing swap work?

Let's have a look at exactly how a clothing swap works.


Perhaps sifting through your wardrobe with the intention to ‘let it go' is the hard part. Or maybe you know exactly which pieces to reach for and add to your ‘share' pile. Either way the preparation is the first step and the items of clothing you choose need to be the ones which are in great condition and are free from marks and stains. For example, the shorts which, if you are completely honest with yourself, really are a bit short or, the dress you loved wearing around three or so years ago but in reality, hasn't moved off the coat hanger since. You know which ones they are so, take a deep breath and get excited with the thought that someone else will be taking them home to be loved all over again. How to hold a clothing swap | Ethical Fashion Australia | Slow Fashion Movement | Biome Eco Stores

On the day

Organisers of the clothing swap event will have stipulated the maximum number of clothing items each participant can bring and they will need to be dropped off before the event. This allows time to display the pieces and prepare the space before the group of ‘swappers' arrive. Each item of clothing you donate will earn you a ‘currency card' so no money changes hands. Give one, receive one is the purpose of the day however, given the unpredictable nature of a ‘swap', you will need to be prepared for the fact you might not go home with the same number of items that you donated. For some people this in itself ‘sparks joy', others might be at a different stage of their decluttering journey and participating is part of the process of moving forward with conscious steps. How to hold a clothing swap | Ethical Fashion Australia | Slow Fashion Movement | Biome Eco Stores

Positive outcomes

Attending a clothing swap puts you in the unique position of ‘swapping' items in a room not purposefully arranged with outfits available in every colour and size. The clothing isn't curated to fit the season and consequently, you aren't overwhelmed with choice. Instead, you are presented with one-off styles and, as the people participating in the event begin to relax, you will find yourself daring to try on things which sit outside your comfort zone. It is highly likely you will see your dress being worn by another and the conversations turn to past stories behind the individual pieces. Events such as these tend to attract like-minded people and the energy in the room creates a light-hearted atmosphere even the ‘anti' shopper can't deny and brings a sense of purpose and community to the simple act of reviving your wardrobe. The ‘haul' you might end up going home with can be enjoyed guilt free knowing you haven't spent any money and, that treating yourself hasn't come at the expense of the planet. In fact, you have just done the environment a big huge favour by keeping items circulating in the loop. It is important to note, that while the best-case scenario is all the items of clothing will find a new home, this is not the reality. Organisers of the Biome Clothing Swap made it very clear at the beginning that any items of clothing left behind were going to be donated to Restitch, a social enterprise who run upcycling workshops and use their studio to raise awareness of the environmental impact of clothing.

Why not host a clothing swap of your own

Now that you can see how easily unwanted items were ‘swapped' instead of ‘dropped' there is no reason why you need to wait for an organised event to appear on your calendar. How about hosting a clothes swap of your own? Are you a member of a group/community, or perhaps have a circle of friends who are keen to coordinate a wardrobe sort and swap? Just remember that prior to the event, you need to organise exactly what will happen to the remaining clothing at the end of the day. For those who aren't keen to organise an event don't despair, just keep your eye on the Biome social media pages where, thanks to the overwhelming response to the first clothing swap, future events will be announced. Just make sure you get in quick because the first event sold out! See upcoming clothing swaps and other workshops and events taking place in our Biome Collective space in Paddington here >
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