How to Organise a Clothes Swap

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Do you ever look in your wardrobe and see clothes you never really wear anymore? Have you heard of the 20/80 rule? Have you heard of a clothes swap?

This rule says most of us only use 20% of our clothes 80% of the time!
Do you fall into that category, or there about? Well, if you do you’re going to love this idea.
Clothing swaps are a great way to update your wardrobe without spending a fortune. They can be organised with friends, groups or the wider community.

If you would like to organise a clothing swap here’s some tips to help you.

Get Prepared

Choose the date and time.
This will fit with who you are trying to attract. If you’re wanting to swap with friends who work, then the weekend, during the day would suit best. However, if you’re a mum at home with the kids and your network are other mums then maybe a time during the week would suit you?
Another time to keep in mind is the change of seasons when you’d normally go shopping for new clothes, this is the best time for a swap.
Now, consider how many people you’d like to attract to the swap.

Choose a location.
If you’re just inviting around or under 20 people then you should be able to hold the swap at a home or in the garage or your entertaining area. Perhaps you’re holding a larger event, say for the community, then you’ll have to organise to book a space that is convenient, like a community hall.
Remember, if you are renting a hall you’ll need to allow yourself enough time, possibly an hour to set the area up and another hour to also pack up.

You’ll need time to sort through the clothes to check they are in good condition and then hang and display them. Try to allow about 45 minutes for this.

Charging entry?
If you have rented a hall then you’ll need to ask for at least a gold coin donation from everyone. If you haven’t any overheads then consider providing tea and coffee with nibbles. This can encourage people to stay and chat and give your swap a more relaxed, friendly feel.

Now what?

There are a few other things to consider when running a clothes swap.

Each item of clothing needs to be inspected for any faults and to make sure it’s clean and ready to swap before it is accepted. Let participants know that only clothes in good/excellent condition will be swapped and that you aren’t swapping active wear or underwear! Perhaps accept clothes for the swap throughout the week prior to the event so you aren’t held up doing this on the day.

To make the swap a fair event you might want to limit the amount of clothes for each person to swap. This is totally up to you, but between 7–10 items per person is usually enough and you should remember how much hanging space you have too!

Clothing swaps usually work on a token system. When you hand in the clothes to be swapped you get the same number of tokens as the number of clothes you have given. It’s easy to design and print out your own tokens for the day. Make them unique so they can’t be copied. (Perhaps something like a square of paper with a design on it and then a button glued to it.)

How you promote the event will depend on who you are trying to attract. Friends can just be word of mouth but if you’re going to hold a community event you’ll need to use places like local newsletters, letterbox drops, community newspapers, Social media pages, shop and cafe windows/noticeboards and tell your local member.

BYOB (Bring your own bag) is a good policy to ensure no plastic single-use bags are being used at your clothes swap event.

You might want to provide a few full-length mirrors on the day too!

Public liability insurance. If you are hiring a venue make sure to ask if the insurance is included in the hiring price. If not, you’ll need to factor in that extra cost. Any clothes that are left over after the swap can be donated to your local charity.

Let’s do it!

People will need at least 3 to 4 weeks’ notice before the swap date. This gives everyone enough time to sort out their clothes and for your advertising to reach the target audience.
You can use Facebook Events to manage your participants and keep them up to date with instructions. Keep people well informed and they will keep the swap in their minds and be better organised when the day comes.

  • Date, time and place and any cost required.
  • Remind them to BYOB, plus the number and type of items allowed and how to collect tokens.
  • Your contact details (email and phone number).
  • The link to the event – Facebook Event

    Have you ever thought of organising a clothes swap? Kids clothes and shoes might be a popular swap too. What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.


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