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Sustainably Stylish: The Ins and Outs of Clothes-Swapping

by Aiden

Aparna Sharma gives you tips for decluttering your wardrobe and attending a clothing swap.

Have you attended a clothing swap? Perhaps the question should be, ‘Have you heard of clothes swap parties?’ Swapping is an extremely sustainable way of shopping. I personally love the concept, as I feel like I can bring a ‘new’ outfit into my wardrobe, which is technically not new, but new for me. I’ve personally found many amazing clothes and shoes in swap events.

If you’ve heard about swapping but don’t know what it is and how to attend a swap event, here’s a quick guide to what to expect and how to attend the next one in Bangkok.

What is it, and how to get started

A clothes swap party is an event where people bring in their used clothes which are in good condition but they feel that they don’t use them anymore. I’m sure you have a few items in your wardrobe which you hardly use, whose style you’ve probably outgrown, or that does not fit into your current lifestyle. If you want to attend a swap party, you should first declutter and clean your wardrobe. You can do this by yourself or get help from an image consultant who focuses on building a sustainable wardrobe, and can guide you on the clothes you can keep, restyle, and reuse multiple times, taking into account what suits your body type.

Swap Party Rules

Different swap parties have different rules: I have attended one which was free, and also paid a range of THB 250 to THB 500 per event. I have helped people organise swap events, and they charge because there is a lot of work involved, and some of these events provide complimentary drink or food.

The host usually sorts out all the clothes they receive and puts them out on racks – many of these events look very organised, like a small boutique, and you get the feeling that you are shopping in a store or mall. Most swap events I have attended allow you to donate as many clothes as you want, and you can also take back as many clothes as you’d like.

Swap Events in Thailand

Fashion Revolution Thailand organises swaps regularly. They have stricter rules: you are allowed to carry only five pieces of clothing, the clothes are graded according to quality, and they give you coupons and you can shop accordingly. I heard there was a beautiful Furla bag at their last swap, but it was taken before I had reached! The grading system definitely works better for luxury items.

Bangkok Recycling Chain had organised a swap event recently and I asked Anne, the founder of Bangkok Recycling Chain, entrepreneur, sustainability advocate, and the event organiser, to give insight into why she loves swapping: “I love it because it’s a less costly way to try out new styles. I also like the fact that there’s only one of each piece, which makes each find feel more unique. With each swap find, I can sense that there’s a story to every piece so it makes it a lot of fun to sift through the piles of clothes and imagine their story. I’ve found so many wonderful swap finds over the years that make me look great. This is what surprises me about swaps – all my friends who swap look great too! They are a wonderful way to match clothes with new owners and find them a home where they can really shine.” 

Aparna Sharma (Instagram: @stylishsuitcase) is a non-conformist who believes that fashion must become a force for good and style must meet sustainability. She breaks down the nuances of slow fashion and how we can stay stylish without being trendy.

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