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How to Host a Clothing Swap

Hosting a clothing swap sounds simple, but it can get messy. Here are some ways to make sure no one leaves empty handed. Learn how to share your style in  a way that brings awareness to the waste-reducing potential of wearing used clothing.

Hosting a clothing swap is a great way to reduce the number of times you buy new clothes, and reduce your overall fashion footprint. Whenever you wear used clothing, you’re doing a good deed for the planet. 

Plus, if you have stylish friends, the grass is ALWAYS greener. They know how to dress, and you’d love to inherit their style. 

With a clothing swap, you can. Hosting one gives you a chance to swap clothes and ideas. Making a social event like this is super helpful for raising awareness, too. You can talk about how to style different pieces, what trends you love, and most importantly, why fast fashion is so yuck. 

a rack of used clothing and shoes outside on the street

Shop your friend's closets

A clothing swap is a social gathering in which everyone brings a bag of clothes, shoes, and accessories that they're ready to part with. What happens after that is up to you. You can trade, barter, beg, gift or even temporarily swap your goods. If there are clothes left over after the event, simply donate them to a local donations center or clothing drive.  

Clothing swap guide

Here’s our step-by-step guide on hosting a clothing swap + health precautions to make it safe and sanitary. 

Clothing swap Invites

The best part about hosting a clothing swap is you get to invite who comes. You can hand-pick your favorite fashionistas. Or you can also think about people who might need more clothes in their lives, too--help your friends in need. 

Create an event online or Whatsapp group for all of the attendees and ask your guests to share the types of pieces they plan to bring. Make sure everyone brings at least 6 items.  

Set a time, place, and lure people in by offering fresh baked bread, wine or something other to get people swapping. 

three girls wearing thrifted clothes

Play by the rules

The level of chaos you’ll tolerate is really up to you. But setting some ground rules helps everyone have a good time. 

Rule 1: Everyone should wash their clothes before the swap. 

Rule 2: Ask people to wear face masks and practice social distancing during the event. You can even go one step further and ask people to wear gloves. 

Rule 3: Make it size-inclusive. The broader range of sizes, the better. People might swap for their family members, friends, or sewing projects, so don’t limit based on size. 

Rule 4: Include a minimum number of tradeable pieces to bring. 

Rule 5: Allow everyone a turn to choose at least one thing before opening up to a free-for-all. 

Rule 6: No fighting--be nice. 

Optional Rules:

  • Only bring clothes in good condition. 
  • Exclude certain undesirable brands. 
  • Draw numbers to decide who gets to browse first. 

a man trading a piece of clothing from a table

Setting up your Swap

Don’t make people search through clothes on the floor. Clear some tables, benches, couches, racks and other spaces where people can easily shop the clothes. 

It’s definitely going to get messy, so consider offering pillow cases with name tags on them where your friends can stash their goods. 

Let the Swap Begin

Once everyone has arrived and set up their clothing spaces, set a timer for round one, which should last about 10 minutes. This is when everyone gets to choose one or two things. After that, people can barter, trade and swap more freely. 

two people's feet wearing second-hand shoes

Make it social

Add an extra layer of magic by setting up a photo-backdrop in a corner, where people can try on things and take selfies. The more you promote your swap, the more it spreads the word that it’s ok to wear used clothing. 

Donate what’s left

Have an exit strategy, so people leave with what they want and toss the rest into a bin for donation. Make sure you have the means to get the leftover clothes to people who could use them. 

Have you ever hosted a clothing swap? How did it go? Tell us in the comments.


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