Sustainable style is buzzing right now with people from across all generations looking for options to pursue eco-friendly fashion. Thrifting and second-hand stores are having quite the moment on social media platforms such as TikTok with thrifting hauls and clothes swap parties appealing to a generation of teenagers eyeing up unique pre-loved garments.
It is testament to a growing movement of appreciating clothes that already exist in a world that champions consumption and an unsustainable fashion industry thriving on overproduction. If you are ready to join this pre-loved fashion movement and step away from simply scrolling to adding vintage finds to your closet, then one of the best and must fun ways, is to host a clothes swap party with like-minded friends and family.
What is a Clothes Swap Party?
In its simplest form a clothes swap party is a gathering of people who get together to exchange clothing that they no longer wear in exchange for something from someone else’s wardrobe. Clothes swaps are a form of circular fashion because they allow us to extend the lifespans of clothing that is already in circulation. They are a way of working with what we already have while satisfying our desire for novelty. Swapping your clothes allows you to not only add garments to your existing wardrobe that suit your current lifestyle, but to enjoy the opportunity to build a community of like-minded people who appreciate slow-fashion.
How to host a Clothes Swap Party
If you’re keen on hosting your own swapping soiree, keep things organised and ensure everyone’s shopping experience is a smooth one by following these pointers:
- Ensure the clothes and accessories your guests are bringing are in good condition (no broken zippers for example). Send reminders beforehand about being mindful about items that are beyond wear and repair. Bringing items that are dirty or damaged is frowned upon.
- Clothes swapping is great for trying out new styles. These parties can encourage people to come out of their comfort zone and try new things. Think about the theme of the party (are you limiting it to just friends and family, both men and women, seasonal clothing only, women of all shapes and sizes?) and ensure there are inclusive solutions for your guests including men and plus-size options so no one ends up feeling left out. Otherwise, there’s not going to be a lot of swapping going on. If many of your friends are very different in shape and size, consider hosting an ‘accessories and shoes’ party only as these fit almost everyone.
- The location needs to be taken into consideration. If it’s more of an intimate, private party with friends and family, hosting in your own home is a perfect option. If the party is more of an open gathering, think about partnering up with a local business such as a café or community space with a similar ethos plus think of any permissions or licences you may need, especially in the UAE.
- Decide on the rules of your swap. This should be communicated in advance so that there is no confusion once guests decide to choose clothes they like. Details such as how many items people should bring, whether or not it should be just clothes and whether shoes or accessories are included are important. Establishing a fair amount of items for guests to bring up front will ensure that everyone goes home with something they love.
- An organised space needs to be arranged including rails, hangers and tables for guests to display their goods as well as an area where people can try on clothes. A full-length mirror is also useful so that people can see what they look like in the clothes as well as a smaller one for trying on jewellery. If you’re hosting at home, you don’t want the party to look like your bedroom floor – chic boutique is the look you’re going for here.
- Don’t forget to remind your guests to bring a sustainable tote bag for their new pre-loved items. Have extra in case people forget to bring theirs.
- Have a plan for any leftover clothes after the party. Consider keeping them for the next swap party you host or donate them to a local charity or thrift shop.
- Devise a system to avoid guests snagging the good stuff because they arrived at the party early and got to shop first. A system whereby numbers are drawn out of a hat to determine the order in which each participant selects a piece of clothing can be a fair way to keep everyone happy.
- Lastly, have fun – don’t forget, it’s a party, enjoy all the mingling and ensure you have plenty of appetisers and beverages plus background music for your guests to enjoy. If it goes well and it was a success, it could become a regular event between you, your friends and beyond. Swapping encourages a shift in the relationship we have with our clothes allowing us to appreciate the beauty of pre-loved. And it goes without saying, who doesn’t enjoy finding amazing new (and free) items to add to your wardrobe!