My first clothing exchange

5 December 2013

clothing exchange australia

When I was young one of my favorite game was dress ups. My mum kept a lot of her clothes from the late 70s and early 80s.
They sat in large garbage bags in her closet. A treasure trove for the imaginative kids that we were. My siblings and the neighborhood kids would regularly ransack the pile, making a mess as we put together worlds built on the outfits we assembled. You could say that from then I have always had an affiliation for second hand clothes.

Where I grew up there were no malls or buildings worthy of being called a shopping center (at least to a girl in her teens). The next town over had a handful of shops that my friends and I would trawl through for that magic outfit. As much as I loved doing the circuits with my friends I undoubtedly preferred second hand clothes.

What the area lacked in popular clothes stores it made up with the abundance of second hand clothes stores known as opportunity shops in Australia (affectionately called called Op shops). I would purchase items and take them home where I would get my mum to use her talented sewing fingers to adjust for me.

My style had always swayed between second hand and new. That was until I learnt about fast fashion and the waste produced. About that time I had moved to London and with my goal on saving for travel rather than shopping I switched my style to second hand or re purposed clothes. With London you have an HUGE variety of second hand clothing stores and places like TRAID could fulfill buying “new”.

As I write this I am wearing second hand jeans and a old top my friend did need anymore. I had never traded clothes with a friend before. It was sustainable and cost efficient way I could update my look and stick to my second hand mantra.

I remembered reading about The Clothing Exchange and saw they were hosting a fashion exchange for ahm in the city. I had to go!
Here is how it works:

1. Bring up to 6 items of clothing (anymore and it would have been even more crazy than it was!). The clothes are inspected by staff to ensure the clothes are good quality (no stains or holes). I took four dresses, one shirt and a handbag.

2. Receive a token for each of you items.

3. Use your tokens to swap for clothes.
I had not expected the large crowd of women and men, but the day worked seamlessly and was fun. There were a floor of helpers available too. Plus whatever is left over is given to charity.

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

If you decide to visit a clothing exchange here are my tips:
  • Go to where the tops are. That seemed like the first to go!
  • Try to only take 3 items into the change rooms (yes, there are change rooms). This keeps the swapping field fair for everyone. 
  • Hang around after the first wave of people try on their clothes. You never know what will come back out of the change rooms
I scored a new skirt, a top, sweatshirt, and a slip. Not bad for my first clothing swap.

UPDATE: Have you been thinking about getting a new outfit for that work Christmas party? You are in luck. The next clothing swap for Melbourne will be on the 9th December. Head to Deakin Edge, Federation Square at 6:30pm to check-in your clothes. Swapping starts at 7:00pm. You can get your tickets here.

Wondering what fast fashion is? Check out this video:

Let me know if you have ever been to a clothing swap and what your tips are. And if there are stores in Australia that let you swap your old clothes i'd love to hear your experiences there?
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