how to host a clothes swap


Do you look into your wardrobe full of clothes and think there’s nothing to wear today?  Do you look enviously at the clothes on your friends and colleagues? Do you like to look nice, without the environmental or social impact of our global fashion industry?  Time to organise a clothes swap party.

There are countless rivers around the world so full of pollution from textile dyes that people living nearby can’t use the waterways anymore. Indonesia’s upper Citarum River is an example of this. Remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh? 1000 garment workers were killed, twice as many were injured and 800 children were orphaned.

A clothes swap party is a great way to empty your wardrobe of unused or wrong-sized clothes, take home some ‘new’ second hand clothes to your wardrobe and socialise with friends.  Organise it as an afternoon with cake, champagne and friends. The ultimate clothes swap party has 15 – 20 people.

Here’s how you can host a clothes swap and make it a success.

  1. Invite friends with all different shapes and sizes. That way there’ll be something for everyone.

  2. Schedule the swap when there’s a change in season.  Your friends will already be looking for new clothes to wear and you can provide the perfect excuse for them to refresh their wardrobe.  Let people know a few weeks in advance, so they have plenty of time to decide what they’ll contribute to the swapping pool.

  3. Ask everyone to bring clothes that are in good condition. Clothes with holes or bad smells should be left at home.

  4. Add shoes and accessories to the mix. Including handbags and jewellery means that everyone can take home something, regardless of their size.

  5. Eliminate clutter from the swapping area and designate places for different types of swapping items. Use a portable clothes rack for suits and work clothes, fold up T-shirts and put them on a table, drape the dresses over your lounge, and place shoes and accessories on the coffee table.

  6. Designate at least one room for changing and have at least two full-length mirrors available for people to see how their new clothes look.

  7. Put all of the clothes out, before you start swapping.  That way people who arrive 5 or 10 mins late don’t miss out on the ‘nicest’ clothes.  

  8. Encourage people to use the clothes swap as an opportunity to take fashion risks. Take home things that you’ve always wanted to wear, but haven’t had the courage to buy.  Help your friends to choose clothes that you think will look good on them. It’s a party!

  9. At the end of the swap, you’ll have left over fashion that’s dated and hasn’t come back again… yet. Put all the leftovers into large garbage bags and take it off to a charity of your choice.  

Like the idea of swapping, but not keen to organise your own event? You can swap high quality clothes online through The Clothing Exchange, set up by Kate Luckins in 2004.

Mia Swainson