How to Organise a Clothes Swap

It seems everyone is swapping and sharing instead of buying new – and with #TakeBackBlackFriday around the corner, now’s the perfect time to organise your own event. With the help of Global Fashion Exchange, here’s how.

With less than two weeks until Black Friday, Eco-Age and Global Fashion Exchange’s campaign to #TakeBackBlackFriday is gaining serious social media momentum. Users have been busy sharing photos, clips and our campaign assets across their social media platforms to tell their followers how they will be spending the days instead of discount shopping, and why they should join too. 

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to #TakeBackBlackFriday yourself, we’ve got your back. A clothes swap is an easy way to update your wardrobe without spending a penny – and a great excuse to get your friends together for a fun-filled afternoon of trying on where you’re almost guaranteed to go home with something (almost as good as) new. 

Everyone’s swapping and sharing these days, and garment rental platforms are booming with interest ahead of party season. Serial swapper Niomi Smart loves a good clothes swap as a way to encourage sustainable fashion. “It’s all about recycling clothes to people who actually want them, rather than giving them away to family or friends who might not. It’s a really fun event and one of the best ways to spread the word about shopping consciously.”

Image: Global Fashion Exchange

We asked Patrick Duffy and GFX to share their tips and tricks to help you pull a swap event together. “What I love most of the feeling that comes with clothes swaps, because it’s actually about sharing, ideas, cultures and knowledge about how to make a positive impact while creating a community,” says Patrick. “Who doesn’t love meeting new people who are passionate about the same goal – in this case it’s making the world a much better place.”

“It’s super easy to organise a swap event. We have done most of the guess work for you and created a toolkit just for this celebration with everything you need to think about. All the materials to help you get organised are there, so that you can focus on creating a great event and community!” 

So, hopefully by now we’ve convinced you that swapping is the way forward. But how to go about it? Read on…

Getting ready

Step 1

Get your gang together. You’ll need a few helping hands on site to make sure everything can run smoothly. It’s a nice touch to give them first dibs at the items before the swap begins as a thank you for their time. Line up people to greet guests, manage the swap, and sort the items as they come in. 

Step 2

Decide your location. Pick somewhere public, popular and creative that will give you a perfect canvas for your event. Check whether the venue can help by providing furniture, rails or refreshments on the day too. From my experience, cafes are usually happy to host when shoppers stick around and enjoy their menu after a hard hour of swapping too. An office swap is another option of course – keep an eye out for Eco-Age’s own event coming up…

Step 3

Set a date. Give yourself enough time to get everything together. If you hope to host on Black Friday weekend, this weekend is the perfect time to put your plan into action. 

Step 4

Get everything together. Make sure there’s a changing area, mirrors, bathrooms and good lighting so that swappers feel comfortable and can browse blissfully. A GFX swap wouldn’t be complete without a party atmosphere, so if you have a friend who can help with the playlist or know a DJ who wouldn’t mind providing some backing music, rope them in for an hour or so to set the scene. 

Image: Global Fashion Exchange

Step 6

Spread the word far and wide on social media! Eco-Age and GFX are sharing #TakeBackBlackFriday posts throughout our campaign, so we can help to get people talking too. Tag @ecoage, @globalfashionexchange and, of course, include the hashtag. 

Step 7 

A true GFX swap includes weighing the clothes that come in on the day, so that a total can be shared at the end of the event. If you don’t have the capacity for this, make sure you’ve got rails, access to two or three tables (more depending on the size of your event), hangers on hand and some fun signs to show people the way to the changing areas and bathrooms. Don’t forget the fun extras like fairy lights or even a pop-up photobooth – it’s easy to assemble and will get people sharing news about the event too. 

Step 8

Collect the clothes to be swapped before the event. Arrange pick-ups and get the items all lined up ready to go on the rails before swappers begin to arrive. This will also give you time to sort the items into high street or high-end categories.

Image: Stories Behind Things

On the day

Step 1

The swap is one-to-one – so if an attendee brings one item, they get one token to exchange for a piece of clothing at the swap. If you split between high street and high end, make sure you mark your tokens accordingly. Whoever is on the door at the event will be in charge of overseeing this as people arrive and leave.

Step 2

Get everyone in position, get the tunes playing and open the doors to your lovely swap attendees! Have a few people circulating throughout to make sure all is going well, as well as manning the changing areas to keep things tidy.

Step 3

Make arrangements with a local textile recycler to find out how you can best dispose of leftover clothing after the event. 

If you arrange a swap event, be sure to tag us in your social media posts so that Eco-Age and GFX can help to spread the word. Together, we are already making huge progress to #TakeBackBlackFriday.