Swishing: The eco-fashion phenomena taking over the world

By Tierney Smith

Swishing has gone global with swaps being organised in the US, Canada, Malaysia, Australia and Brazil (© The Swap Team/Creative Commons)

It is the eco-fashion phenomena which has now gone global. Great for the planet, your wardrobe and even your wallet. Guessed what I am talking about? Swishing of course!

For those of you who are still not acquainted with this latest past-time amongst the eco-conscious fashionista; swishing simply put is the swaping of clothes, shoes and accessorize.

The fashion industry is big business, worth £20.9 billion annually to the UK alone. But it also has huge environmental impacts in terms of waste, water use and energy use.

Swishing is a great way of getting the most out of the clothes that you buy, while still allowing you to refresh your wardrobe.

Re-branded and christened ‘Swishing’ by Chief Executive of Sustainability Communication Agency Futerra, Lucy Shea the craze has been described as the “future of fashion” by fashion journalist Jess Cartner-Morley.

The company’s Swishing Website now gets thousands of visitors per month from all around the world including  the US, Europe, Australia, South Africa, China, Malaysia and Brazil.

In the UK alone thousands of women now attend swishing events and are swapping tens of thousands of items every year.

Why Swish?

While clothes swamping in not a new idea – it has been taken on by Futerra as a way of combating the reliance on a damaging clothing industry.

In the UK alone, people buy around two million tonnes of clothes every year, and then we throw away around a million tonnes. This not only generates significant waste to landfill sites but also equates to a huge footprint in terms of energy and water embedded in our garments.

And yet fast fashion continues to grow, with more people looking for a bargain when purchasing items of clothing which we only ever plan to wear for a season.

With most of us also feeling the pinch of the credit crunch, people are beginning to look for ways to refresh their wardrobes without spending huge amounts of money.

Swishing offers this alternative.

Swaps can take place anywhere from public gardens, halls and gyms, shops, bars and offices (© The Swap Team/Creative Commons)

What is swishing?

While traditionally clothes swaps were something you did amongst friends – and many still do – the publicity the concept has got in recent years has moved it on to a whole other level.

From public gardens, to shops, bars and workplaces you can find a swishing party in nearly every town and city across the UK every week. There has even been an event held in the Houses of Parliament.

I got my first taste of swishing at Mrs Bears’ event at the Britannia Pub in Hackney. At this monthly event the rules are simple. Costing £5 to attend (free to browse) you can take up to seven items to swap. For each one you get a token – red or blue depending on whether your items are designer or high street – which you can then use to purchase other people’s items.

Making the most of the sunshine outdoors and with some extra bunting for the Jubilee the shoppers consisted of a huge mix of people from mothers and daughters to friends to lone shoppers.

The idea of the swap can be a little daunting at first, and I certainly did not know what to expect. If you are getting yourself ready for your first Swishing experiences, I have come up with a few points to consider…

1. Get ready to rummage

In the same way you shop sales or charity shops, Swishing is all about rummaging to find your hidden gem. This was the hardest part for me. I have never been a good sale shopper and would probably label myself a lazy shopper (I often rely on friends to dig out what clothes would suit me).

However, with such a wide variety of clothes to choose from at these events I am sure most people will find at least one (if not several) items of clothing which would suit your needs. Just be ready to dig around a little to find them (and maybe fight for them amongst fellow Swishers).

If your ready to rummage you can find some great items at clothes swaps (© The Swap Team/Creative Commons)

2. Attend with friends

This takes me to number two on my list. If like me you are a lazy shopper or sometimes find it hard to imagine what things will look like on, take your friends along with you. It is a great idea to have a second eye at these events, and a great way to pool your resources and make sure you all go home with a least one item to refresh your wardrobe, while having a great day out to boot.

3. Organise your own event

If you are still feeling a little daunted by the idea of attending a swishing event why not organise your own. Get together with a group of friends – and friends of friends to boost the stock – and make a day of it with cake and tea or an evening of it with cocktails. with you and your friends having lots in common your sure to find something they are giving away that you want to take home.

4. Be open minded

Let’s face it; second-hand clothes are never going to have the same look as something new in a shop. While swishing parties will have rules on what you can and cannot swap – you will not find anything torn, stained or too worn on the racks – you should still not expect a swishing party to be like walking into a store on the highstreet.

If you can get over this however, there will be plenty of great choices to pick from, from the more conventional to the whacky. And if you happen to be more on the creative side, keep an eye out for great fabrics – while the clothing may not be your style, there could be great opportunities to turn it into something that is.

5. Keep others in mind

And if on the off chance you don’t find something you would like to take home, there could to loads on offer which your mum, your sister or your friends would like. Why not also keep them in mind while you search and take home some free goodies for the whole family.

Have your say: Are you a swisher? Have you got an experience of a great swishing event from anywhere around the world? Let RTCC know below, on Facebook, Tweet us @RTCCNewswire or by emailing [email protected].

Interested in sustainable fashion? Why not check out:

– RTCC’s introduction to sustainable fashion.

– Eco-fashion guru Elizabeth Laskar’s six step to sustainable fashion.

– Green is the new black for Swedish clothing company H&M.

Read more on: Living | | | | |