Takeover Series: How To Host A Clothing Swap

Part 2 of the Takeover Series is brought to you by Emily Ferguson. Emily is an avid thrifter with an educational background in fine art and textiles. She has a love for natural materials and the stories woven into each and every garment.


The clothing swap is no new phenomenon.

Surely, we’ve all done something similar here and there when we’ve borrowed something from a friend, raided their closet, or received a hand-me-down from a family member. But the clothing swap is bigger than this, it’s a whole event and great excuse to clear out your closet and host your friends over for a night of socializing.

Not only that, but it’s a fabulous way to reuse any kind of garment or accessory. Maybe you don’t love your colourful band t-shirt anymore, but one of your friends might! Isn't it better to have one of your pals wear an article of clothing you once held near and dear to your heart?

Photo by: @bohemegoods

Photo by: @bohemegoods

It’s a great way to pass something on without losing touch with the memories associated with it. Here in Calgary, we’re seeing a whole lot of consignment stores popping up (hooray!), and there is always the option of donating items to thrift stores. So, why not add to the mix and host a clothing swap!

We hosted our first clothing swap during the summer of our first year in university. We were young, scrappy, and low-budget college creatives and a clothing swap was the perfect way to combine our passion for art and fashion, and at the same time, live an environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Suzanne invited friends of all sizes and backgrounds to clean out their closets and bring the contents to her house; it was the start of a series of swaps spanning a number of years, and a few new friendships. It was incredible to see garments have four or five lives, and they popped back up at a swap every couple of years ready to find a new owner. The gatherings were also a safe space to foster self-love and body positivity. We saved money and a heck of a lot of clothes from the landfill.

We are thrilled to be able to expand our swapping traditions with a larger community of people at the Fashion Revolution YYC Clothing Swap on April 25th. Our aim is to recreate the energy of our small swaps and keep the social atmosphere we love. In those first swaps, our chats about where and when we should wear each garment naturally flowed into conversations about our goals and impacts in the world. We hope to foster this kind of discussion surrounding the grander themes of Fashion Revolution. Clothing is such an essential part of our lives, yet we rarely discuss its impacts on us and the environment.

So have we inspired you to throw your own clothing swap yet? Here’s how you do it step by step:

  1. Go through your closet and take out any items that you haven’t worn in X amount months (you choose what you’re comfortable with and stick to it) or that do not bring you joy* anymore.

    • *Try the KonMari method of organizing. This is a great way to work towards minimalism and decluttering your closet and home. Watch on Netflix or online! Helen Youn of KonMari will also be speaking at the Fash Rev YYC Clothing Swap.

  2. Round up your pals and get them to do the same.

  3. Find a location to host if not your own home

  4. Set some ground rules:

    • Try not to be a clothing swap control freak, letting go of your unloved garments can be hard and takes practice. Remember that the point is finding garments you can love and wear all the time, not to have that one running skirt just in case you decide to take up running. Be practical, be realistic, and exercise will power.

    • Decide on a minimum and maximum number of items to bring, or not at all.

  5. Bring some snacks and bevies of course.

  6. Clothing Swap time!

  7. Donate any remaining items – do your research on the best places to donate near you!

Thumbnail Image by: Shanna Camilleri

Emily Ferguson