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Why We Should Swap Before We Shop

If you’ve not heard of this new swap trend, you better keep reading! Swapping clothing could just be the answer to reducing brands' mass production and slowing the rate of fast fashion.

We live in an age where trends change constantly. Within one year, brands will churn out 52 micro seasons, making us as consumers feel constantly like we’re falling behind and need to buy in order to keep up. The problem is these brands make it impossible to keep up! We would have to buy every other day in order to do so, which is excessive and also to mention expensive.

13 million items of clothing every week will end up in a landfill in the UK alone. So how can we as a consumer shop ethically to reduce this amount?

There is the obvious alternative of buying second-hand. It’s a fact that 65% of clothing that has been bought second-hand will prevent the buying of new garments. Also to mention it is a far cheaper alternative than buying new. Even the economist is quoting, ‘Out with the new, in with the old’. With second-hand being so popular at the moment, it’s easy to get involved. New online sites and features such as Vinted, Depop, E-Bay, Facebook marketplace and countless others are all at your fingertips. It’s a useful way to ethically get rid of your unwanted clothing and receive money back for it. A definite win-win situation.

Besides buying second-hand, there are other ways of challenging the fast fashion industry. We need to break through this buy and barely wear disposable model and replace it with accessible slow fashion methods.

So let’s talk about swapping, a new on the rise trend with Facebook groups and In Swap meets for the sole purpose of exchanging unwanted items for something ‘new’.

This is the perfect solution for guilt-free retail therapy! No one wants to admit it, but there is the satisfaction of buying something nice for yourself, something different for your wardrobe. It’s a guilty pleasure, and we all have it, so why not swap for this same gratification.

Women only wear 20% - 30% of their wardrobe, so there is a good 80 – 70% chance you have something left to swap for. This way, you can increase the longevity and use for your clothing and get something back in exchange. If we even increased the use of our clothing for an extra three weeks, it would reduce 5-10% in each item's carbon waste and water footprint.

Also, you can really explore and create a unique fashion sense when swapping. Retro items are easy to come by when you swap, and with retro clothing being such a current trend, why not swap for it instead of going to your local shopping mall’s Urban Outfitters or H&M. Economically too it’s a great way to save money as you spend absolutely nothing to do a swap. Swapping avoids unnecessary funds spent on clothing and buying into fast fashion but also carries on the development of fashion in the most sustainable way.

Another positive point about swapping is that it’s a great opportunity to be social with others. From all the swap events I’ve been to, I've noticed that it’s always a really warm and fun environment with like-minded individuals. You can also share your honest experience of your clothing with others who are interested which is so beneficial to the swapper.

It’s important to remember though, when you’re swapping online or attending swap events that you should have quality clothing and not your old stained rags to exchange – think, if you would never want to wear this item, would anyone else want to?

It’s also important to remember that you may not always find an item to swap with, however, many events will allow you to donate in exchange for tokens that can be kept for later usage. I recently passed a pop-up swap shop in London (@shopnationuk) and was really impressed by their set-up, they had lovely unique pieces that you could swap with when you brought items of clothing. For each item, it is measured on its quality, material, brand and ethical footprint and is then given a number for a token. Clothing items with your same token number you can swap for, this system makes sure that there are constant quality items left and fair trades.

So get involved, go online and see what local swaps are taking place, and message your friends and family even for a mini swap event. It’s such a fun and social thing to do with absolutely no guilt! Not only are you challenging fast fashion, but you are also conserving vital textile resources and saving every penny!


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