Five Steps to Hosting a Successful Clothing Swap

Here in Budapest, spring has sprung. The sun is getting stronger, the clocks sprang forward, and everyone is ready to shed their winter layers for spring clothing. In the age of fast fashion, there’s a tendency to head to the mall. The better answer to your spring wardrobe refresh is: host a clothing swap!

I’m a big fan of the clothing swap. The idea is simple: invite people to bring in nice-but-no-longer-loved clothing together and exchange it. There’s pressure, especially for women, to constantly buy new clothing to stay up-to-date, professional and appealing. While people are ditching the consumerist behaviour in many rad ways, the clothing swap is one more strategy to simplify, save and enjoy.

I’ve done this with friends, in a slow fashion pop-up, at a community event, and most recently here at Impact Hub Budapest, marking Buy Nothing Day in November, and just yesterday, the start of Spring.

Clothing Swap at Impact Hub BudapestOne of the clothing swaps strengths is that it’s a hard event to screw up. However, here are the key steps I’ve discovered to hosting a successful one:

  • Host one in a community. Whether it’s your best friends, your shift at work, or your street, clothing swaps work best where people are connected via a community of some sort. Swaps work best if there’s some bond or trust between the participants, and it’s a surprisingly effective team-building activity.
  • Ditch the rules. I’ve attended some events where there’s a give-take ratio, which is not only a headache but totally unnecessary. Encourage people to bring clothing, but even that’s not required. Most clothing swaps have way more clothing arriving than leaving, so there’s no need to monitor the demand curve. Be inviting, be encouraging and trust your community.
  • Play some tunes! A good soundtrack is important at any party. I suggest any solid 90’s playlist, which combines just the right amount of energetic pop and daring fashion choices.
  • Make it a habit. Not sure if you can pull off those bright-red, patterned slacks? I sure wasn’t. I tried them, I was complimented, and I didn’t wear them again. No problem, because I brought them back to the next clothing swap so they can continue their journey. Regular swaps encourage you to stay mindful of your wardrobe, as you don’t need to buy new things to have a refresh or to try new a style.
  • Donate, thoughtfully. As the swap wraps up, encourage contributors to take home their items still remaining, but otherwise, donate the clothes to a local organization who will put them to good, local use. I emphasize local as sometimes donated clothing can end up on another continent, having an unintended ill-effect. Keep it local, get to know your local charities and organizations, and keep the sharing going. At Impact Hub Budapest, our clothing is donated to the Cseriti shop.

If you’re in Budapest this Sunday, you can check out Messzelátó’s swap at Ellàtò Kert! If you’re anywhere else, reach out to a few friends and make your own spring wardrobe cleaning.