27 July 2018

Circular Economy Clothes Swaps have become a thing in Canberra!

| Nina Gbor
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All photos supplied by Clothes Swap & Style – Canberra.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. As sustainable fashion has crept into the mainstream, activities like clothes swap parties have increased as one of the many ways to address the issue of fashion waste and pollution. Fortunately, the swap phenomenon has gained popularity in Canberra.

I moved to Canberra three years ago with the intention of hosting clothes swap parties. At the time, it was hardly a thing in Canberra but I’m so pleased to see swap parties happening at different parts of the metropolis. If you’ve never been to one, it’s definitely worth a try. You take your best quality clothes that are either too big, too small or just haven’t been used in a long time and in exchange, you get to pick out other fabulous preloved pieces that look great on you. Your trash is someone else’s treasure and vice versa. The really fun swaps have wine and music (or maybe that’s just my opinion).

You’re probably thinking: Why swap when I can shop new instead? Well, here are a few reasons to try out this permanent trend:

  1. The circular economy. In my estimation, this is by far the biggest reason to clothes swap. Australians are the second largest consumers of new textiles after North America. On average, we buy 27 kilograms per capita each year. We struggle to contain it all in our closets. Many of us throw them away and they end up in the landfill. ABC TV stats for 2017 state that we throw out 6000kgs of fashion textiles every ten minutes! Most of it is polyester so it will not biodegrade. Instead, it will exude toxic gases like methane, probably for centuries.
  2. Upholding a circular economy of clothes means less fashion waste goes to landfill. Sometimes we might think we’re offsetting by donating to op shops but only about 30% of donated items end up on the shop floor. Plus, it’s a very expensive business for op shops to collect, sort and dispose of donations and waste. For instance, it costs Salvos Australia between $5 million and $6 million dollars a year to manage waste. That includes clothes and household items.
  3. Even if you’re not swapping, there are other alternatives such as renting, loaning, upcycling or redesigning instead of buying new. If you’re buying new, it will help to consider if the garment is something you’ll use for a long time or whether you can actually hire it instead.
  4. It’s so much fun to do with a group of girlfriends, sisters or your Mum. Alternatively, you can go alone and meet new people in a safe and comfortable space.
  5. It’s a chance to play dress up with an array of styles, probably like you did when you were little. In all my years of hosting clothes swaps, I’ve seen all sorts of clothing styles come through the door – from corporate, casual, goth, elegant, edgy, classic, vintage to cultural and everything in between. It’s a chance to try styles you wouldn’t usually try on. You never know when you might see yourself in a different light! There’s no guilt or pressure to look a certain way.

If you’re keen on trying out a clothes swap, I’ll be hosting one with a mini re-styling workshop on Sunday, 29th July 2018 at 11 am – 1 pm at The Makeshift Space, Nishi Building, 2 Phillip Law Street, New Acton. There’s more info here.

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