We Held a Clothes Swap! + How to Hold Your Own

How to Hold a Clothes Swap | Ethical Influencers

Last weekend we hosted our very first event! In celebration of Fashion Revolution Week, Ethical Influencers teamed up with The Fashion Common Room to host our “Meet-up, Workshop, Clothes Swap”.

We met each other in real life, we workshopped around the future of ethical fashion blogging, and we then swapped clothes.

For our first ever event, we were ecstatic to see a range of bloggers, influencers, and ethical fashion business owners come along to our event and create an exciting space to discuss the future trends in ethical fashion content.

The format worked well: sharing our reasons for being interested in ethical fashion led into a clothes swap with the aim of extending the life of our unworn clothes and going away with something new to share!

And considering 23% of all Londoners’ wardrobes aren’t worn, the event promoted circular fashion as well as the “reuse” part of the 5 R’s!

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we’ll be planning more clothes swaps and likeminded events – so be sure to keep an eye out for those!

In the meantime, we’d love to empower you to host your own clothes swaps. We’re aware that we can’t jet-set around the world (and nor would we fly) so we’d love to give you the tools to host your own events, wherever you’re based.

And while ours was a ticketed event, there are so many other ways you can share your clothes with others – for little to no cost at all!

How To Hold A Clothes Swap

Organising a clothes swap is a lot easier than you may think. Here are the steps you need to take to organise your own – whether it’s between friends, or for an entire community:

1. Identify your audience

The first step is to work out who you’d like to invite. Could you invite your group of friends to share their pre-loved clothes with you? Perhaps you’re part of a social club and would like to invite the members to join in. You could even hold a clothes swap at your workplace!

Once you’ve identified your audience, it’s a good idea to estimate how many people may come. This will help you to choose a fitting venue, and also bring along the right number of clothing rails and coat hangers.

2. Choose your venue

The second step is to choose your venue. Ella from The Fashion Common Room invited us to her university for our event, and we used a large room with lots of natural light.

You could consider the following venues when organising your clothes swap:

It’s also worth considering a changing area to try on clothes. Some venues have great toilets with full length mirrors, which will do the job without needing to bring along any extra equipment.

We found it really useful to have a clothing divider and space for people to try on their clothes before taking them home. We also brought a mirror and had a camera set up, so people could photograph in their new clothes to see what works on them and what doesn’t!

3. Set the date

Clothes swaps are best during the day, especially when there is natural light so you can see how new clothes look on you.

Most paid-for venues are cheaper during weekdays, but you may find your event has less guests (as they may be at work).

Depending on who you are inviting, try to work out when would be the best time for them – an evening after work or a Sunday afternoon may be best.

4. Send out the invites

Now it’s time to invite everyone! It’s crucial to give people notice, and also remind them to bring clothing (and bags) with them.

We communicated our event on our websites, and set up a Facebook Event to invite people to as well. As our event was ticketed (to cover the cost of the drinks and set up), we started advertising three weeks beforehand. This gave people enough time to check their diaries, book tickets, and get excited to come along.

If you’re inviting friends, it may be easier to set up a Whatsapp group or private Facebook Event – it’s up to you!

5. Devise your exchange system

If you’re hosting a large clothes swap, we really recommend having an exchange system in place.

We used a token-based system, to create a fair and equal environment for the clothes swap. Luxury pieces were worth more tokens, and more basic clothing worth less. Everyone could then leave with value that matched what they brought to the swap.

While we had a colour coded system, the easiest way to do this may be through giving out tokens:

  • 1 token for low quality pieces
  • 2 tokens for mid-range pieces
  • 3 tokens for high quality pieces

It’s then the same price for each of these pieces.

6. Bring along a “clothes float”

When organising your clothes swap, it’s good to have a lot of items already displayed for when your guests arrive.

We recommend bringing along a mix of clothes, so you can create an inclusive environment where everyone can take something home with them.

Your clothes float could contain:

  • Womenswear
  • Menswear
  • Unisex clothing
  • Accessories
  • Footwear
  • Any other unworn items you may have

7. Set up your clothes swap

When setting up, we recommend having at least three rails to display your clothing on – this makes the exchange system easy to work out, too.

For bags, belts, hats, and any other accessories, try using a display table and lay these out in a similar fashion – divided into three groups.

As this was our first event, it’s safe to say we underestimated the enthusiasm of people attending – we brought three clothes rails to our venue but will certainly need more for future events! Clothes hangers also ran out pretty quickly; we brought along over 60 hangers, but needed even more!

8. Get stuck in!

If this is your first clothes swap – just like it was ours – make sure you have fun and get stuck in too!

I (Besma) was so busy having fun talking and helping out at the event that I forgot to even look for clothes myself – but I’ll certainly remember next time!

9. Have a plan for leftover clothes

Finally – when the event is over, you’ll probably find there are a few items left over. If you’re planning on hosting a series of clothes swaps, you can store these for future events.

If not, why not donate these to your local charity shop (and if you’re based in London, you can ask Traid to pick them up for free!)

The Benefits of Doing A Clothes Swap

We loved hosting our clothes swap, and can’t wait to do more. Not only was it a fun way to celebrate Fashion Revolution Week, and meet members of the Ethical Influencers community, but we also found a way to increase the lifecycle of our clothes.

Each year in the UK we throw away 300,000 tonnes of clothing, so it’s events like these that can raise awareness in the value of sharing our wardrobes instead of chucking clothes away.

Best of luck with your own clothes swaps, and we hope to see you at our future events!


Besma of Curiously Conscious and Ella of The Fashion Common Room | Ethical InfluencersAbout Besma & Ella

Besma is an ethical fashion and lifestyle blogger at Curiously Conscious, and the Founder of Ethical Influencers. Ella is the creator of The Fashion Common Room, a forward thinking media platform challenging our current fashion culture and encouraging a better, fairer fashion industry. Together, they held the recent Meetup, Workshop, Clothes Swap, and are looking forward to organising more events soon!
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