Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Swap till you drop
You can boost your wardrobe without ever going near a mall
In a city where a compliment on a new dress may, as often as not, be met with a variation of, "Thanks, it was $7 at Goodwill," you'd be hard-pressed to find a better fashion fit than a clothing swap.
0000On a larger scale, clothing swaps are increasingly becoming a way for organizations to encourage clothing recycling and thrifty shopping sprees, channeling the proceeds to charities and any unwanted clothes to groups that can use or sell them.
The S.W.A.P. Team, a national clothing swap organization that got its start in 2007, is hosting its first-ever Winnipeg swap April 21 at the Delta.
"I'd heard about it in other cities, and thought it would work really well in Winnipeg," said local chapter director PattyAnne Falconer-LePage.
Falconer-LePage hopes to draw up to 250 people to the Take Off Your Clothes swap of men's, women's and children's clothes, the proceeds of which will help Kids Help Phone. If that seems like a big crowd, consider a similar swap in Montreal attracted more than 1,000 people over two 12-hour days, Falconer-LePage said. Ditto with popular swaps organized in New York in recent years under the banner of Score! Pop-Up Swap.
The S.W.A.P. Team events work on one-to-one exchanges: every blouse, blazer or pair of pants you take (women's clothing only) earns you a credit, with each credit good for one item of clothing.
Falconer-LePage said she thought a swap event would be a way "to highlight Winnipeg's thriftiness, but (also) to combine fun, fashion and fundraising all in one. In addition to the three Rs, you also get the three Fs."
Local arts group Mentoring Artists for Women's Art (MAWA) ran its first women's clothing swap two years ago. These days the events involve music by local DJ Mama Cutsworth, a lineup out the door, and a $10 cover charge for all the clothes you can carry home with you.
"People come in and they bring their bags with them, and they leave with garbage bags full of clothes at times," said program and administrative co-ordinator Lisa Wood.
Wood said the event helps connect MAWA with its membership and the North Main Street community. Clothes that don't get claimed in the swap are donated to the North End Women's Centre.
"I think that particularly working within an artist community, there's a big sensitivity toward environmental issues and also toward just being thrifty and re-energizing old clothes within a new wardrobe," said Wood.
"The idea that not everything needs to be new all of the time, it's sort of an ongoing mentality, I think."
For some, an informal clothing swap is a new spin on popping up a yard sale sign or sending old clothes to a thrift store -- or, in a worst-case scenario, tossing them. Dayna Steinfeld and her friends used to organize rummage sales, but Steinfeld said she opted to organize a clothes swap instead after a friend hosted one.
"It's such a great way to be sustainable, especially for my friends and I who have worked in retail," said the 24-year-old.
"You accumulate... a wasteful amount of clothes."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2012 J16
Updated on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM CDT: Corrected date of The S.W.A.P. Team event to April 21
(1 of 23 articles for this week)