friends having a clothing swap friends having a clothing swap Modern-day clothing swaps have become popular all across the globe. (Photo: Lorelyn Medina / Shutterstock)

How to organize a clothing swap

Discover how to get rid of garbage and get free, new clothes at the same time.

Even with a closet full of clothes, you still can't find anything to wear because something was deeply wrong with the previous incarnation of you – the one that thought you'd ever want to rock a tie-dye dress, oversized plaid jacket and the color pink.

Time for a clothing swap. This trend, in which groups exchange clothes with each other, is getting popular around the world. American company Clothing Swap organizes massive swaps for the public, and they're not alone. A couple months ago, Tel Aviv University organized Israel's first Fashion Revolution Day, "an event dedicated to a responsible, transparent and sustainable fashion industry."

Swaps are a free, environmentally friendly way to get curated new clothes, one that lets somebody else use your trash as treasure. Here's how you start one.

When and where

Living roomYour living room, backyard or local park could all work well. (Photo: Lior Danzig)

Organize your clothing swap like you would plan a party. Pick a place (probably your living room) and time. Decide who to invite. Anywhere from three to a few dozen guests could work, depending on how much space you have and how amazingly popular you are.

If you don't have a perfect space for a swap, get creative. Consider having your swap in a nearby park or in a friend's apartment. And if you're organizing a much bigger swap, try to get a large space, perhaps at a local community center.


Invitations

A new study found links between cell phones and male infertility. If you want to be as retro as your clothes, you could try calling your friends. (Photo: Alexander Image/Shutterstock)

Send out invitations (in person, by Facebook event, over the phone – however you and your friends communicate) a few weeks in advance so people have time to emotionally part with their own hoarder gems.

Let everyone know the rules: for every piece of clothing they bring, they can take a maximum of one piece from someone else. Encourage people to bring some things that fit everyone, like accessories. It's no fun being the only person at a clothing swap who can't fit into everyone else's clothes. Explain that everything should be in good shape – that could mean only quality labels, or it could mean only a few holes and mysterious stains, depending on the crowd you roll with (after all, you can always turn clothing stains into art).


Preparations

pile of clothingSorting clothes ahead of time can make everyone's lives easier. (Photo: nito/Shutterstock)

If you're having a really big swap – maybe you're organizing a community event, or maybe you're just, again, amazingly popular – you might want to ask people to drop off clothes at your place ahead of time. That way, the folks who come on time don't have to wait around forever for latecomers to show up before starting to shop.

Also, now's a good time to figure out what kind of event you want to have. You could turn this all into a cocktail party with fancy drinks, a game night or just a casual few hours. But definitely decide what kind of food or drinks you want ahead of time, so you don't end up frantically running to the corner store and trying to cook a dozen microwave dinners while the party gets started.


The swap

The time has come. Put out some delicious snacks and turn on some music as your friends arrive. Also, put out a mirror (ideally full length) so people can see what they look like in their new threads. Bring some bags for people to carry clothes home.

If you're feeling particularly industrious, you might want to sort clothes by size, style or color. But dumping everything on a few tables can work too. Mainly, you want a lot of people to be able to get at the clothes at the same time, so try putting them in the middle of the room, or in several locations around the room, rather than throwing everything in the corner. Nobody likes a Black Friday-style clothing swap.


The aftermath

donating clothes to thrift shopDonating makes you feel good about yourself. Or at least, less hoardery. (Photo: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock)

Not all clothes are created equal. It's pretty likely that you'll have some sad little pieces left over. So figure out what to do – donate them to a thrift store, plan a community art project using fabric strips to create a quilt or just give everything back to the original owners.

Or keep it all for yourself because that was your evil plan all along. Bwahaha ...

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