How to Organize a Clothing Swap
Recently I was invited to participate in a Clothing Swap hosted right here in Kitchener-Waterloo! I, myself, had never participated in one before and had only heard of Food Swaps and Children’s Clothing Swaps. My interest was sparked.
KW Professional Organizers often comes across many who struggle with letting go of ‘stuff’ or wanting better ways to share their abundance. We think that a Clothing Swap is a great opportunity to share a unique and fun idea for downsizing!
I sat down with the host, Angela Smith, to discuss the why’s, what’s, and how’s of Organizing a Clothing Swap.
Where did you get the idea to host a Clothing Swap?
Angela was living in Taiwan the first time she heard of and participated in a clothing swap. She had a hard time sourcing clothes that fit properly and it turned out so did a bunch of her friends who worked there.
She said that the event in Taiwan was a bit of Free-For-All and saw everyone bringing what they didn’t want, throwing it into a pile, and just digging through it to find things they loved. Problem solved!
She has since refined the process and now in her 2nd annual event has learned the do’s and do not’s of clothing swaps.
How does the process work for participants?
It’s best if participants know about the event well in advance, so they can take the time to go through their closets for donations. Some people may not be able to attend the actual event, but can still donate clothes. Vice versa others may not be able to donate clothes, but be able to attend the event!
In a nutshell, anyone who attends the event is allowed to take as many or as little clothes as they wish. Angela doesn’t set limits because it changes every year — one year you find heaps that suit you and other years maybe only one or two pieces work.
There are rooms or spaces available so that guests can try on anything to be sure they like what they’re taking.
What do you need to host a successful Clothing Swap?
15 Things to Consider
- CLOTHES – without them the event doesn’t work. Make sure everyone knows well in advance that you’re collecting donations and that they are to donate laundered clothing only.
- Clothing Hangers – ask friends for some, shop around at second hand shops to pick up extras, collect empty ones from all
- Clothing Racks – again, ask friends if they have any to borrow, have a look on Kijiji, get a bit create with shower curtain rods in door ways or other such DIY ideas.
- Signage – if you have extra time to get creative you can make signs that detail what is on offer (Example: Clothing Type, Sizes, Name of the Event, Etc)
- Mirrors – if you have extra throughout the home you’ll want to get them in accessible areas so guests can make best decisions
- Change Room Space – dedicate bathrooms, bedrooms or hang curtains so that everyone is able to try on what they’re taking!
- Timing – Spring or Fall are great times to host in Waterloo Region because of the changing of the seasons & weather
- Invitations – make phone calls, send text messages, create a Facebook Event, mail your family, send a carrier pigeon — get the word out to your network in any way that best suits you *Remember even if someone can’t attend in person they may still have clothes they’d like to donate!
- Bags – make sure your guests can take home their new wardrobe with ease, ask them to bring a re-usable bag.
- Snacks & Refreshments – this is a social occasion so feel free to indulge a little while the fashion show transpires.
- Music – Keep everything light hearted and fun with a little pick me up music!
- Place to Donate – At the end of the night there will be left-overs — do some research and consider taking them to a local shelter, thrift store or charity!
- Explain the Process – let your guests in on how it all works — they can read this blog 🙂 or you can let them know how it works when you invite them!
- No Money – this is a money free event and the selling of clothes is discouraged
- Accessories – you can expand on clothes with purses, belts, jewelry, hats, scarves, shoes, etc
Why do you enjoy hosting the Clothing Swap?
Angela says she loves second hand everything and getting people together for out of the ordinary events. Hosting events is one of her passions and a Clothing Swap is something different. Angela also goes deeper mentioning that this is an alternative to traditional shopping and she would like to open people’s perceptions of shopping second hand.
She mentioned that a big benefit to hosting is getting a first view of what is dropped off. Another benefit was getting to choose a place to donate all the left over clothes. Last year’s event saw the majority of clothes heading to Monica’s Place in Kitchener, Ontario.
In this fast paced society the biggest challenge is getting people to respond in advance. Angela said that it is a huge help to get clothing donations prior to the actual event so that she can properly sort, hang and fold them for display.
What do the future Clothing Swaps events look like?
Angela aspires to continue to grow participation in her event and eventually host it outside her home at a larger location. She is a fountain of ideas when it comes to creative events and if you would like more information regarding hosting a clothing swap or other such events please email her.
Angela Smith is 35, living and working in Kitchener Waterloo. She believes in living local, second hand and being creative. During her vacation time she bounces from continent to continent and on her weekends she is an avid explorer within a 100 km radius. She enjoys organizing out of the ordinary events, large and small.
If you want to start a conversation with Angela be prepared to discuss food, fashion, travel, re-purposing, music and/or outdoor activities.
Angela’s LinkedIn Angela’s Instagram
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