A clothing swap… why now?

Lizzie and I started thinking, as often we do, about clothes. What would be cool to be part of that involved clothes? What would encourage people to come out and be part of something in Sheffield?

Everyone likes clothes, right? And everyone likes something free, right? And socialising is always good, right? Right.

We got to thinking about the vast amounts of clothes we both have. Rooms of them, in fact. We both rather enjoy clothes and dressing up, and from our discussion, we couldn’t recall a time when we hadn’t. Bargain stuff, fun crazy stuff, costuming, dressing up, making things, vintage stuff, and latterly a shared love of high end couture stuff. In addition, Lizzie under her label name of ‘Lizzie Biscuits’ makes awesome costumes for all sorts of things, including conventions, cosplayers and drag artistes.

‘La Pomp’ by Lizzie Biscuits

I moved house recently, and in order to sell my house, had to empty rooms of clothes, just so prospective buyers could actually see the house under all those years of carefully procured and curated clothes. 100 square feet of hired storage quickly started to fill up… looking at it all was quite something. Something quite insanely something…

I don’t know who that person was who was buying all those clothes, but she had a lot of them. They *were* pretty cool clothes though, I had to admit.

Articles in the news started to focus on buying ethical fashion, rather than fast fashion. An antidote to the whole ‘Instagram Outfit Blitz’ of buying items, sometimes not even buying them, just trying something on and taking pictures to boost one’s popularity on social media, seems to be what’s needed. It’s an antithesis to actually loving clothes and curating a personal style.

I started buying vintage clothes when I was a teen, not because it was something fashionable kids did (there was no ‘vintage’ back then), but because they were cheap, available and if it wasn’t quite right, I could hack at it and sew things to it until it was.

‘Dead People’s Stuff’ in full effect

Back then, you couldn’t go into a high street shop and buy an alternative look, well… you could. ‘Void’ existed down a grotty little side street, but it was beyond the reach of 15 year old me’s pocket money, so that was really out.

There was ‘Pippy’s’ for leather jackets, but I’m showing my age there…

Wearing ‘Dead People’s Clothes’ made you into ‘A Weirdo’, definitely not a fashionista and definately not something acceptable to my peers’ minds.

I was ‘A Stylish Weirdo’, at least to my mind, and that was okay. If I couldn’t find it (a theatrical ermine capelet from a junk stall on the market, 70s armourlike jewellery to make me into a Pagan warrior, a floor length black holey cloak made from someone’s nana’s net curtains, I mean, it even had a cowl.) then I would make it, or get someone to help me make it. True, it often looked like something the von Trapps would have forcibly backed into, but any flocked velvet port in a storm, eh?

Not only that, but with the advent of programmes like Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ and a spiralling interest in human welfare stories about sweatshop workers being exploited, chemicals in dyeing and treating cloth production being loosed on water courses, it’s become clear that all that landfill and waste made up of ‘reject’ clothes is also really terrible for the planet.

Micro fibres, mass produced plastic shoes, things worn once and discarded, lovely things that someone could use again, things that you’ve become too big, or too small for, items that just don’t suit you anymore. Charity shops full of mass produced clothing that shouldn’t really exist. Clothes that no-one had needed, or really even wanted to begin with. And it can take up to 200 years for polyester to start to break down; you don’t want it, but neither does the planet!


Articles about clothes swaps started to gain popularity. I’d heard about ‘swishes’ years ago, but had never been to one. We both agreed that a clothes swap full of exciting stuff would be amazing, not a free-for-all rummage sale type event, but one that people could relax at, maybe with cocktails (Booze is also good, right?) and enjoy finding new garments to create new looks with. If there was a nominal outlay, so much the better.

We’re hoping to run at least three events this year, so that people who love fashion can start to swap their stuff with like minded folks. Hopefully you’ll find something to make you start re-thinking your current style and perhaps thinking about buying less and swapping more…

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Published by scsxsheffield

Ethical Clothing Swap Event in Sheffield focusing on designer, vintage and high end pieces

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