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12 amazing clothing swaps from around the world

The first clothing swap I attended was at a dimly lit San Francisco bar. I found a pair of the softest leggings I'd ever touched, their floral pattern radiant. I'd wear them down to the threads over the next few years.


When I started looking into clothing swaps in Asheville, I was inspired by a 2018 swap hosted by Marisol Colette of Sol Reflection. The experience that Marisol created raised the bar for what I imagined a clothing swap could be. The venue was beautiful and the clothing organized - it looked like a real store!


With two swaps under our belt now, AVL Clothing Swap is still a relative newcomer to the scene. We continue to be humbled by the support of our community and inspired by clothing swaps around the world. With shared missions to build community, reduce clothing waste and support reuse, each event has a unique impact on their local environment.


Some organizers have shared with us their advice for starting a clothing swap, and we've include links to their websites when available, and instagram accounts for all. Check out these amazing clothing swaps from around the world - maybe you'll get to visit one on an upcoming trip!

 

Jump to a specific swap:

 

1. Clothing Swap Bergen

  • Location: Bergen, Norway

  • Founded: October, 2021

  • Unique swap feature: ​They offer a repair cafe for mending items and a sewing club

Clothing Swap Bergen is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to, "Providing local, sustainable and social solutions to the global fashion crisis." They run regular clothing swap events, repair cafes, a sewing club, and upcycling workshops. With three board members and over 45 volunteers, it's a true community effort! We love that they offer a repair cafe at their clothing swaps to help folks mend items.


Organizer Marjolein Roozen's advice for starting a swap is all about building community. She says, "For Clothing Swap Bergen, community is definitely one of the organisation’s most important aspects. We have a big group of volunteers that we strongly depend on. It is such a resourceful and passionate bunch and we try to involve them in every way possible. There are many skillful people that want to participate in solutions to the global fashion crises, so our advice in starting a clothing swap - don’t be afraid to ask for help!"


2. Attire Rotation

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

  • Founded: June, 2022

  • Unique swap feature: Hosts swaps every month!

We were blown away learning about Attire Rotation in Atlanta, who host a clothing swap every month! The organization was founded by Taryn Montgomery, who was previously an Executive Director at an environmental education and awareness nonprofit. We love the upscale editorial vibe they bring, and they're working on finding a permanent space for their swaps - amazing!


Taryn says, "Planning a clothing swap is not going to be anything you expect it to be. In the good and bad ways. It’s going to be about four times the amount of work you expect it to be. Overstaff on volunteers." As another practical piece of advice she adds, "I never thought I was going to have to figure out how to store hangers, or my apartment would be full of them." We can relate! Finding the right racks and hangers for your event will take some time.



3. The Good Loop

  • Location: San Diego, California

  • Founded: December, 2019

  • Unique swap feature: Events are supported by business sponsorships and a raffle

Founded by Mackenzie Lowe, The Good Loop has donated over 6,000 gallons of garments to people in need in San Diego. We adore their distinctly vintage California-vibe you can feel through their instagram account and that their swaps are held outdoors.

4. The Clothing Swap TT

  • Location: Trinidad and Tobago

  • Founded: July, 2019

  • Unique swap feature: Swap attendees get a discount to a local yoga studio

The Clothing Swap in Trinidad and Tobago operates on a one-to-one model (bring an item, take an item) with a membership system that allows attendees to keep credits for future swaps. After just four events, they'd collected over 10,000 pieces of clothing! We envy that attendees get a local yoga studio discount.



5. Clothing Swap Party

  • Location: Panama City, Panama

  • Founded: June, 2019

  • Unique swap feature: It's a joint effort between a consignment shop, environmental org, and an environmentally-focused sporting events consultancy

Clothing Swap Party was started by three women, Ana, Sara and Yafa, who met through shared interests on social media. Ana runs Shop My Closet, an online fashion-conscious consumer platform where you can buy unique second-hand clothing and accessories at incredible prices. Sara runs an environmentally focused brand, The Sustainable Plan, and Yafa runs Compite Verde, an organization that provides environmental management and consulting services to sporting events in Panama. Since 2019 they've hosted over 10 swaps and we love the collaboration between these women (and their brands) that makes the swap possible.


Their advice for starting a clothing swap? "Just go for it! The feeling of being supported by a community as passionate as you about sustainable fashion can’t be described. It is pure joy to know that you are finding a new home for pieces that you thought would never be used again, and for you to see how someone else is going to extend their lifetime, it's amazing."


When it comes to finding collaborators, they say the first thing to do is trust each other. "Everyone will find an important job to do based on their qualities and capabilities and don't forget about communication; it is the base of everything! Keeping in mind that everyone wants the swap to work, everything else will flow between you and the rest of the team. It is very important to share the core values: build a strong community and make a positive impact in the world. A bonus is that we are also all lefties! we think something is up with that too."


As a fellow left-hander, I have to agree! 😜


6. Seattle T4T Clothing Swap

  • Location: Seattle, Washington

  • Founded: July, 2022

  • Unique swap feature: For and by trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people

Seattle T4T Clothing Swap is the first swap we've found specifically for trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people. It's also the first we've found to offer multi-day swaps...wow! Their first event was attended by over 100 people and they were able to donate many items to Spectrum Resource Center, which provides an All Genders Closet. They also used funds raised to open a bank account to purchase items that are not donated as often or need to be purchased new, like plus/extended sizes, affirming underwear.


7. Rewear it MU

  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Founded: August, 2022

  • Unique swap feature: Run by students at Marquette University

With six swaps hosted since they started their clothing swap in August of 2022, we can tell that Rewear it MU is fulfilling the need for sustainable shopping amongst students at Marquette University. The group of graduating organizers has already passed the torch to their next leaders. We love that they offer impact reports after each event, and have partnered with their university wellness center to create eco-friendly laundry detergent.


The Rewear it team's biggest piece of advice? "Don't be afraid to ask for help! Putting together a clothing swap requires a lot of collaboration and help from volunteers, so don’t be afraid to be loud with your message. Your passion is your strongest recruitment tactic when asking for support."

8. Sustainable Swaps

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts

  • Founded: October, 2021

  • Unique swap feature: Swapping is organized around vendor tables like a market

Mireya Zellner, a marketing communications major at Emerson College, started Sustainable Swaps as a way to reduce clothing waste. Sustainable Swaps events include entertainment from live bands (we love it) and the swap is organized by tables set up from individual participants, like a market. Attendees can swap for their clothes, or make a purchase.


Mireya says, "You need to make your swap a community based event, because without people showing up to the event, they cannot happen. It’s so important to focus more on the sustainability of the event than the money and the capital of it all."


She advises not too lose sight of having fun either! "Make sure that the technicalities of the event don’t blur the original idea of hand-me-down swapping.”



9. Philly Plus Clothing Swap + Shop

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts

  • Founded: Fall, 2021

  • Unique swap feature: For plus size people and providing plus size clothing

Donelle Jageman founded the Philly Plus Swap after a thread on plus-size consignment IG account @SellTradePlus about a clothing swap started gaining interest. Donelle started a DM group to talk about the idea further, "Before I knew it, there were 40 people in the chat!"


She knew the need was there, so she found a venue and the first Philly Plus Swap was held at Bartram's Garden in October 2021. "I never got to trade clothing with my friends and plus sized people are always disadvantaged when it comes to shopping. I also have a background in environmental studies and I value sustainability - secondhand clothing is a great way to practice sustainable living. Organizing The Plus Swap really brings together so many of my passions," explains Donelle.


This year The Plus Swap will be part of the newly formed Philly FatCon, Philly's first fat-focused convention organized by Donelle, Adrienne Ray of Curve Conscious, and Kenyetta Harris of Curvy and Seductive.



10. The Clothing Exchange

  • Location: Sydney, Australia

  • Founded: November, 2004

  • Unique swap feature: The longest running swap on our list!

Since 2013, The Clothing Exchange has been hosting swaps across Australia. In addition to swapping clothing, they've hosted kids toy and book swaps too. We love that they are providing multiple avenues for sustainable shopping.


Founder Kirsten says, "At The Clothing Exchange, we believe that looking good should not cost the earth. Our events are fun, fashionable, and sociable. We are always looking to diversify our swaps by including kids toys and clothing, books, and household items. We are constantly working on creating great partnerships with many Councils and corporations that promote sustainable consumption throughout Australia. We are dedicated to swapping."


Her advice for getting started with your own clothing swap is to:

  • Find a good venue that’s comfortable, well-lit, and fun

  • Set a date and time when most people are available

  • Set guidelines and standards for the type of clothes to bring

  • Have all the necessary equipment to display the clothes

  • Provide refreshments

  • Promote your event to bring in the swappers

  • Collect details of swappers to grow your database

  • Always have fun


11. Radical Clothes Swap

  • Location: Los Angeles, California

  • Founded: November, 2021

  • Unique swap feature:

Radical Clothes Swap Co-Founder Jannine Mancilla says, "Starting a clothes swap is so fun and rewarding! People have really gravitated toward this concept."


Her advice is to consider what equipment you'll need to get started. "Our swaps are free to the community and we don't ask for anything in return. With that being said, reach out to your community for any equipment you might need. There are people who are willing to donate items to your cause. We've been fortunate enough to receive hangers and racks from folks who have these items laying around. A simple instagram post gets the word out to folks about the needs of your collective. It may be uncomfortable to reach out for equipment-remember you're doing a service for the community by providing free clothes."


Check out more about the Radical Clothes Swap in this Refinery29 article, Swapping Clothes Isn’t Just Fun — It’s Community Care.


12. Bed-Stuy Clothes Swap

  • Location: Brooklyn, New York

  • Founded: March, 2018

  • Unique swap feature: Hyper-local and designed for people of color

The Bed-Stuy Clothes Swap is, "a community-based safety net for NYC residents that specifically centers the residents of Bed-Stuy. We aim to collectively move against the grain of New York’s hyper-capitalist systems that encourage overconsumption and the destruction of our environment, displace long-term community members, and exploit and subjugate our Black and Brown communities."


Founded by Akiera Charles, the swaps are collectively run by a team that includes roles in admin, content curation, social media management, and partners coordination. They have fun collaborations, like a recent swap that included plant swapping with Plant Bae Collective. Check out more press on the Bed-Stuy Swap from Sustainable Baddie.



Bonus: AVL Clothing Swap

  • Location: Asheville, NC

  • Founded: August, 2022

  • Unique swap feature: Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood

We'd be remiss if we didn't sneak in a mention of our own swap onto this list! Our first swap was held in August 2022 in direct response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. We wanted to create a space for women to come together in community, have some fun (while taking a break from screaming at the patriarchy) and help raise money for Planned Parenthood. The North Carolina clinic would see a huge increase in patient care in our post-Roe world.


We also need to give a shout out to Emote, our favorite queer art and secondhand shop, for their free monthly swaps. Check out their website and follow them on instagram to stay in the loop (they also post the best reels). Retro Coffee on Sweeten Creek road has also hosted a clothing swap for the community!


If you're local, you can join our mailing list and follow us on instagram to stay in the loop on our upcoming events!


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