Tired of fashion overconsumption? A clothes swap could be the answer
The Big Swap events have become a fixture on the calendars of many since their launch last July, with visitors flocking from as far away as Sheffield and London to attend. The project, formed as a collaboration between Style Swap Events founder Sarah Jackson and Big Swap founder Zoe Sussmeyer, aims to be as broad as possible, while allowing people to swap their unwanted clothes for clothes. other favorite pieces donated by trocs.
May’s event took place at Nonsuch Studios on a sunny spring afternoon. Approaching the doors, there was already an excited crowd of people waiting to enter. I myself brought ten items from my wardrobe and was eager to see what treasures I could trade them for.
Each visitor pays an £8 ticket and can bring up to ten items, including clothing, shoes and accessories, and in turn can take home a maximum of ten items. The tracks were all neatly separated by size and category and were all well stocked with an array of amazing parts. From Topshop and Whistles to Guess, New Look, Zara, ASOS, Ralph Lauren and more.
“We always have an eclectic mix at our swap events and it’s all about the thrill of discovery, because you really don’t know what you’ll get,” says Sarah. “We’ve had high-end High Street pieces like Whistles, Reiss and Zara, but it’s the vintage cuts that are interspersed with it that make it more interesting.
The events have kept 2,950 garments in circulation, of which 296kg have been diverted from landfill this year alone
“It was never about label snobbery, it’s about things that still have a lot of life in them and that someone is going to appreciate. And it could be something from Primark or Prada. When I I started chatting, there was real confusion about it and people were texting me all the time like, “What if I bring something from Whistles and only get something from Primark?” , continues Sarah. “It’s about bringing something. it is in good condition that someone can enjoy it and wear it for a long time. And, when people walk away with things they really love and can’t wait to dress up with their new finds, that’s what makes these events special.
Zoe adds, “We’re starting to see more vintage and retro pieces appear, which is great. Now that we’ve introduced plus sizes, it’s really diversified our offering. Last July we only had one plus size rail; at this event, we had five rails. That’s almost fifty percent of our stock.
Seeing the lively mix of women from all walks of life enthusiastically mingling and flicking the rails, it’s clear to see that Sarah and Zoe have created something special that goes far beyond the clothes. “You’re walking through the High Street and it’s sad to see all the shops closing,” says Zoe. “But seeing how people shop and how they view their consumption is so different now.”
The couple told me that the May event was their busiest event so far, with over seventy attendees. Since their launch last year, the events have kept 2,950 garments in circulation, of which 296 kg have been diverted from landfills this year alone.
Any clothes that cannot be exchanged on the day are donated to Nottinghamshire Hospice, which has partnered with Big Swap Events since last year. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the Nottinghamshire Hospice. They really helped me with my second event,” says Sarah. “And I loved the fact that we had the opportunity to support a great local charity which helps many families across Nottinghamshire. That made it even more special.
“The whole ethos around our events is about championing zero waste and the circular economy, but it’s also about making an impact in many other ways, including supporting a local charity,” adds Zoe. “We have successfully donated £5,092 to Nottinghamshire Hospice stores through our events since last year. They are about seven to nine months behind on donations due to COVID, so our events help them when they need it most.
From an almost new Ralph Lauren trench coat to a range of brightly colored jumpsuits and dresses, from trendy military boots to eye-catching sweaters, there was so much to choose from. However, this slow-fashion junkie managed to treat herself to four really special pieces, including Guess boots, a vintage midi dress and a sixties-style swing dress. So overall I’d say it was a total hit, and definitely up there as one of my new favorite ways to shop. And, what’s better than knowing you’re helping the planet, giving your old coins a happy new home, and successfully bringing home treasures yourself – all with the change of a dime?
The Big Swap Events One Year Anniversary Swap takes place on Saturday July 9th at Sneinton Market Avenues