How to host a successful clothing swap event.

This year I had the pleasure of celebrating National Swap Day at a professional clothes swap event hosted by The Clothing Exchange in Melbourne. The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and focused on a more sustainable approach to shopping. I came away with some gorgeous new additions to my wardrobe and inspired to write a few thoughts around how to host a successful swap at home.

If you’ve become weary of your current collection and are looking for a low-cost update, then a hosting a clothing swap where everyone finds something new (to them) might be just what you need to bring new life to your wardrobe.

The guests

Sounds simple enough, but getting the right mix of swappers is the first step to ensuring a successful swap event. Your best approach is to invite at least 10 fashion-savvy women in a wide range of shapes and sizes so there’ll be plenty of clothing on offer and everyone will have at least one size match – you don’t want anyone to miss out on a newly-swapped treasure! If you’d rather stick to a smaller group of friends, try to include those who are within one or two sizes of each other, or focus on accessories! Scarves, jewellery, sunglasses and other free-size items will have a better chance of finding a new home. Be sure to give guests plenty of notice as well so they have time to clean out their closets.

The guidelines

While there is no need for strict rules, one thing you might like to decide on is a maximum number of items your guests can bring. The more the merrier might apply to the number of party-goers, but simple rules for the clothes can help keep the swapping opportunities fair and ensure everyone brings only their most desirable pieces. Similarly, setting a theme such as designer, or vintage, will set expectations before the swapping begins.

Once you have decided on the ‘what’, it’s time to consider the ‘how’, for example a one-for-one swap arrangement or a system based on the original value of the item. Kate Luckins, owner of The Clothing Exchange, suggests keeping it simple by “dividing the clothes into casual / fancy and swapping like for like. I don’t encourage anything too complicated or brand / cost-related because that’s irrelevant for the swap. It should be about the fit and whether the item flatters!”

The get-together

Chances are your guests will be excited to get started as soon as they arrive, so it’s best to be prepared. Have racks or tables ready for them to display their clothes, either by size or item type and set aside a room where people can get changed and have plenty of mirrors at the ready. You want to give everyone a chance to check out what is on offer, so enjoy a few drinks until everyone is ready to browse, explain the rules and let the fun begin!

In my experience, girls who are interested in clothing swaps are super-friendly and will be ever thankful for the chance to both declutter and refresh their wardrobes at no cost, while enjoying a chic evening with friends. (That was certainly my experience of The Clothing Exchange swap event!) Add to the feel-good factor by donating any left over clothing to charity and enjoy the budget-savvy additions to your wardrobe.

For more information about clothes swaps, including online swapping options, visit clothingexchange.com.au