November 29, 2010

How to Host Your Own Clothing Swap in Five Easy Steps

Here is my guide to hosting your own clothing complete with illustrations. I've based this largely on the couple dozen swaps I attended at the People's Food Co-op women's clothing swap in Portland (not sure if that is still going though). 

Step 1: Get Organized
Keep in mind that clothing exchanges work best if they are size and gender specific. It makes it much easier for everyone to find flattering garments, even with only a few swappers. Next you will need to find a suitable time and location for the swap, most likely your living room. If not, look for open community spaces such as at a yoga studio or your house of worship. Arrange to have at least one or two full-length mirrors available for the swap.

Step 2: Get the Word Out
Now that you have a suitable time and location, you will need participants, mostly likely friends and acquaintances. (Craigslist and flyers are a great way to publicize larger swaps held in community spaces.) Ask people to RSVP by a certain date and set a limit to the number of guests. You want a manageable size, 5-10 people is good for starters. Ask everyone to bring about one bag of clean, quality items. If nudity will be unacceptable, request that everyone wear leggings and snug tops to allow for modesty. Create an email list and remind guests of your swap details a day or two before. (See my list of variations for more ideas on what to swap.) 
how to swap 1:
Figure 1 (tape strip from Pugly Pixel)

Step 3: Arrange the Room
Having an organized space is key to a good experience. Be in the space well before people arrive so you can arrange it well (see figure 1). Use signs to distinguish the different swapping areas. Delegate one corner of the room for shoes, accessories, and anything potentially heavy or injurious. (That last bit sounds funny, but you don't want a belt-buckle accidentally flung across the room into someone’s face.) Set up your mirrors. Leave the center of the room empty for the pile of clothes (we'll get to that in the next step).

Step 4: Host and Direct the Swap
Start by having everyone separate and arrange items besides clothing into the designated areas. Ask everyone to hang on to her bag of clothes until everyone has arrived. Then form a wide circle in the center of the room. Everyone should dump their bags directly in front of themselves to form a big pile of clothes. Ask everyone to walk in one direction until they are at the opposite end of the circle. Now give the go ahead to swap. (This way people are not searching through their own clothes.) As people find stuff they like, they should form small piles directly behind themselves. Remind your swappers before starting that small piles around the room may be other people’s scores. Every few minutes, ask people to pick up the garments directly in front of them and rotate them clockwise to keep garments circulating. At any time, people may leave the main clothing pile to examine the accessories section. If a swapper tries on an item and doesn’t like it, she should return it to the main pile.
**If you have more than 20 people, I recommend 2 piles (see figure two). Divide the group, to form the two piles. Have swappers switch piles before swapping. Avoid chaos by asking everyone to not go back to their original main pile until after ten minutes of swapping.***
how to swap 2:
Figure Two (tape strip from Pugly Pixel

Step 5: Clean Up
When the swap is dying down, let everyone know you will begin cleaning up. Keep in mind that home swaps sometimes turn into fashionable parties, so my your clean up may need to include a bottle of wine and some snacks. Simply collect everything left over, put in a box and donate to a thrift store. Certainly you know that if you use a public space, you should leave it nicer than you found it. 

The most basic swap will ask for gently used clothing and accessories, but here are some other swapping suggestions:
• If you want to invite people regardless of size and gender, try an accessories, books and gifts only swap. 
• Children's swaps work best when they ARE multi-size. 
• You may want to include garments which are in need of repair but still useable/charming. Be sure to keep these items segregated from the main pile though.
• An arts and crafts supplies swap would be brilliant

Well folks, I hope this has proved handy. A friend and I will be hosting our own swap in two weeks. Of course, I'll be sure to keep you posted. In the meantime, check out what blogger extraordinaire Agent Lover has to say about swapping. Please share any of your own tips and suggestions in the comments. Thanks for tuning in,

1 comment:

  1. I agree someone should organise an online clothes swap. That would be awesome :) clothes swaps are pretty much non existent in my part of the UK.


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