How to Host a Clothing Swap
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
By: Jade Wilson
Photography By: Alison Boya
What You Need
-a location for the event
-tables and racks to hold the clothes
-people to invite
-mirrors and a place to change into clothes for the “shoppers”
-time and dedication
If you don’t want to invite strangers into your own home for a swap there are plenty of other locations available.
If you’re in college talk to an advisor to see if there are locations available on campus for an event.
If you’re not in college many public libraries allow community members to hold events.
Reach out to local farmers markets to see if you could open a booth.
Reach out to other local businesses to see if they would be willing to let you host outside their store.
During garage sale season partner with neighbors to set up shop in someone’s driveway.
Reach out to local k-12 schools to get families in the community involved.
Hold the swap at a high school football game, have people swap last year’s homecoming dress just in time for the dance.
Reach out to local parks to use their community space.
Who To Invite and How To Invite them
Anyone and everyone?
Friends, Family, Community members, your hair stylist, the people standing in front of you in the grocery line. Who you invite is up to you but the more the merrier and the greater selection of clothes you’ll be able to “shop.”
How To Invite them-
It’s not the met Gala so formal invitations may be a bit over the top.
That said it is necessary to get the word out so here’s some ideas:
Pass out flyers everywhere you go
Create a tinder profile for your event
Create an event on the Meetup App
Call your mom and invite her. She’s almost guaranteed to attend.
Attach an ad on your car window
Attach an ad to your dog, take your dog on a walk
For inspiration on how to make upcycled promotional material worthy of a designer fashion show, check out Virgil Abloh’s LV seat assignments for PFW: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsu3A-wh7hx/
It’s best to decide what the value is of the items available at the swap. Since there is no monetary exchange, you have to decide if a donated silk blouse can be swapped for a yellowed old t-shirt.
You also must decide if it is necessary to collect clothing donations before the swap (from experience this is necessary) or will you only let people donate items the day of the swap? Or will you do both?
Also what will you do if people show up to the event without anything to swap?
All of these decisions depend on the projected number of attendees for your swap.
A Few More Ideas To Try
Your clothing swap doesn’t have to just be a swap there are plenty of ways to make it a larger event. Obviously you can’t host fashion week in your driveway but you can try.
Invite fashion forward people in the industry to come and talk at your swap.
Offer other activities like clothes mending, dyeing, or laundering.
Set up a photoshoot for people to model their new found treasures.
You could even have a fashion show with upcycled looks.
This can be both an exciting and educational event, take the time to inform people of the importance of conscientious consumerism.
What We Did
For our campus-wide swap we collected donations in advance. Everyone could donate up to 5 items, only two out of the 5 items could be t-shirts. These items were collected at assigned donation centers around campus. Those who donated received a voucher allowing them to collect 5 new items at the clothing swap. We also allowed people who stumbled upon the event, the day of the swap, to take one item for free, if they signed an agreement to be smarter with their shopping habits. (agreement linked below)
Additionally, we had photographers and areas set up for a mini photoshoot the day of the swap. The idea was to encourage the “shoppers” to play and try on the clothes creating a memory of the event and an emotional attachment to the clothing they took home.
Do your thing, talk to your people, have your people talk to their people. Build your team, find a location, advertise the event, prepare, stay hydrated, get 6-8 hours sleep every night, host the swap, promote it and enjoy it, then take a fat nap.
These are just ideas to get you started, you can add them or change them to make them more your style. Comment below or tag sfi on instagram. We’d love to see what you come up with !