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How To Organize A Clothing Swap (Guide + Tips)

how to organize a clothing swap

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How to organize a clothing swap, and what’s the idea behind it? 

If you have clothes that you don’t wear anymore, the best way to get rid of them is by organizing a Clothing swap!

The whole idea is to collect items that you don’t want/wear anymore and exchange them with others. 

But how to organize a Clothing swap? Are there some rules and tips for creating such an event?

Luckily, it is super easy to organize a Clothing swap event and in this article, you will learn all about it, including:

  1. How does a Clothing swap work?
  2. How to organize a Clothing swap: Step-by-step guide
  3. Clothing swap rules
  4. Benefits of a Clothing swap
  5. FAQ:
    – What do I need to bring to swap clothes?
    – Are there Online clothing swap apps?

1. How does a Clothing swap work?

Sometimes, we buy things that we wear once and forget about them, or we have clothing items that we don’t wear and love anymore. 

Instead of throwing away clothing in good condition, or keeping them in our wardrobe to collect dust, we can give it to someone who will wear them. 

A clothing swap works like that:

You have to bring unwanted clothes which are in good condition. 

The clothes will be spread around, and after that, the people will start checking the clothes that other people brought!

Whatever you like, and it fits you – you can take, free of charge.

In that way, you will get “new” free clothes, and the ones you don’t like anymore will find a new owner – so it is a win-win! 

In the end, you can donate the things that no one wants.

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

2. How to organize a clothing swap: Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Pick a place

First off, you should consider if you want to make a smaller or a bigger event.

If you plan to invite between 8-15 people, you can consider organizing the clothing swap at your home. 

If you plan to invite many friends and even share the event in some groups online, it is best to find a spot. In my case, I contacted a few coffee places.

One of them was happy to host the event there, so that’s what I did. 

You might consider writing to local coffee shops, non-profit organizations, groups, local charities, etc. Go directly to the place, or send them an email. 

Step 2: Create the event & promote it

Even if you plan to do a smaller Clothing swap event, it is a good idea to create an event.

In that way, you can easily share it, and send it to all of your friends quickly, and you can include all the rules there.

You can create the event on:

Make sure to create the event/invitation at least 1-2 weeks in advance.

If you want to create a bigger event – promote it on your social platforms, forums, and local Facebook groups.

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

Step 3: Create the rules (more about them – below)

There should be a few basic rules, so it is fair.

First off, the number of items – put a minimum of clothes that people should bring. In my case, I wrote that people should get at least 5-10 clothing items.

You can put a maximum, too, as in the event I organized, a lady came with a giant suitcase, filled with (non-desirable) clothes. 

For that reason, the next step is to mention that the clothes should be clean and in good condition – nobody wants a 5-year old t-shirt that you used to sleep with, over-worn stuff with holes, etc. 

You can mention that accessories, beauty supplies, or anything that is “fashion” related is acceptable, too. 

Furthermore, mention that the first who finds a piece and likes it – will take it, even if more people want it. It is crucial to make the rules fair, so people will know what to expect. 

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

Step 4: Preparation

Option 1: 

If you make the Clothing Swap at home, you might consider getting a few drinks and preparing some easy snacks.

It can be anything – crackers, dips, veggies, fruits, etc. You can also mention that people can bring drinks, too.

As for the clothes, you can stack them around your couch, chairs, tables, etc. 

Tip: To keep the food and drink budget down, you can make it a potluck event.

Option 2: 

If you make the event in a coffee place, then it’s easier since people can order drinks and possibly food from there.

It would be best if you have some hangers, and perhaps 1-2 clothing racks.

For my event, we used many hangers, and we placed the clothes on the chairs and tables of the coffee place (I had just one clothing rack – check the images for a reference).

Tip: For a cozy and pleasant event, make sure there is background music, a changing area (a bathroom is okay), and some mirrors. 

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

Step 5: Start the swap!

As people arrive, ask them to add their items to the piles you’ve already begun, and let people know they are welcome to take anything they like. 

Step 6: Donate 

Once the swap is over, you will probably end up with a lot of extra stuff that no one was interested in.

Make sure to find (in advance!) some places such as local charities, where you can donate unwanted clothing.

Make sure you have transportation, as you might end up with plenty of extra clothes. 

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste

3. Clothing swap rules

1. It is for all sizes and shapes – This might be a concern a lot of people have but don’t worry!

Usually, there will always be something for everybody, as these clothing swaps include everything from tops and bottoms to jewelry, purses, shoes, and other miscellaneous accessories.

2. Note a minimum and a maximum number of items – this is essential if you have limited space.

For a minimum, you can ask people to bring at least 10 pieces, and for the maximum – no more than 20.

3. Only things in good condition – Pick items that are clean and in excellent condition.

If clothing items are in poor condition, including stained, smelly, scratched, broken, missing pieces, etc., it’s best to repurpose them as cleaning rags. 

4. Bring your shopping bag – it is good to remind everyone to bring a reusable shopping bag.

This will cut down the use of single-use grocery bags or the need to look for extra plastic or paper bags for people.

5. Set a time – Consider a date and time, where most people will be available.

I organized the Clothing swap on a Sunday, from 10:00 until 14:00. So, consider the weekend, around noon/afternoon.

6. Be clear about what type of goods this swap party is about – you can make it a “bring anything you want” swap party, or make it specific for kids’ items, clothing, books, kitchen tools, Christmas stuff, etc.

*Of course, you can modify these rules, but they can be a helpful start. 
How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

4. Benefits of a Clothing swap

Free clothes:

It is like going to a store and getting “new” free clothing items, without spending money!

Getting rid of unwanted clothing:

Decluttering and cleaning out your closet is always a good idea. In that way, you will free space for new items, and you will make someone happy with your unwanted clothes.

It is important to be mindful, too. Even though things will be for free, make sure to get something you truly need and like!

After all, a Clothing swap event aims to clean out your closet, and not clutter it again, with more things you aren’t sure you will wear. 

Meeting new people or hanging out with friends:

While getting free clothes, you can hang out with your friends, and even make new ones!

Real opinions:

You will have a live audience, who will give an honest opinion if an item of clothing looks good on you or not.

Good for your pocket:

If you want to save up some money, but you need certain items, a Clothing swap event is a great way to find free clothing pieces that you need!

Motivation to create a more sustainable wardrobe:

Getting rid of old clothes can motivate you to focus on buying things that are made to last, with high-quality materials, and pieces that you truly like. Developing a more sustainable wardrobe will take time, and it might be a bit more expensive at first.

However, in the long run, you can save money since there are very affordable & sustainable brands, and also you won’t have to purchase new things constantly.

Good for the environment: 

It is a great sustainable way to use second-hand things rather than buying new ones. Plus, the fashion industry is currently a vast waste generator. REusing and REpurposing things is a fantastic way to prevent clothing items from going into the trash and prevent people from buying new things.

Related post: Fast Fashion Disadvantages

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste
Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

5. Clothing swap event FAQ:

What do I need to bring to swap clothes?

You can bring between 10-20 clothes pieces, including tops, dresses, pants, jeans, sweatshirts, jackets, t-shirts.

Additionally, you can also swap shoes, scarves, hats, jewelry, purses, etc. – basically anything that is in good condition but isn’t working for you anymore.

Are there clothing swap apps and websites?

There are ways to swap your clothes online through different apps and websites. Some options include:

  • TradeMade – A swap, trade & barter app for clothing (and other stuff, too). Just upload your items and trade/swap them with others!
  • This For That – A fabulous clothes swap app, in which each member can open a digital closet and share it with others.
  • Rehash – Great to swap your clothes online and for free. The app allows you to get fashion and eco-friendly living advice, join groups, and attend live swap events.
  • Swancy App – An app that’s currently ideal for people from Norway and the UK. 
  • Swopped – UK online clothes swap app.
  • Regain – UK online clothing swap app.
  • Depop – While it is mostly for selling/buying clothes, many people are open for swaps, too. Before approaching a seller for a trade, check their bio as many people explicitly state ‘No swaps’, or ‘Open to swaps.’
  • Vinted – Vinted is a peer-to-peer marketplace to sell, buy, and swap clothes.
How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste

Conclusion 

While it may seem to some like a hustle, it is super easy to organize a clothing swap! 

The first one I did was in a new city, so I knew very few people.

I decided to write in a few local Facebook groups, and I saw many people interested in it. From there, it was all pretty straightforward.

Have you ever been to a clothing swap? Are you interested in participating in one? 

Let me know in the comments below. 

Also, let me know if you have any questions regarding how to organize a clothing swap. 🙂

How To Organize A Clothing Swap - Almost Zero Waste

4 Comments

  1. Hello Meri,
    I am Ruth from Nakuru, Kenya and a budding sustainability expert/waste recycler. Thank you for the information on the clothing swap guide. I’d like to know more about it and understand the dynamics. I wish to chat more.

    Many regards.

  2. Hi Meri,
    I did this swap with 20 women and it was GREAT fun! Everyone went home with a bag of clothes and had an afternoon of fun (and food) together. Now everyone is asking, “when are we going to do that again?”

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