Another swap is coming! It has been too long… And always trying to improve our common experience swapping, here I have gathered all swap-related posts so far, hopefully useful for both first-timers and swap fans alike.
In my head there are two sides to swap prep for an un-customer. If your job is to show up and participate – which is a great job and without you there wouldn’t be an event – there are two questions you have to have answers to: (a) what am I taking to the swap? and (b) what do I want to bring home from the swap?
Step 0: Knowing what will happen
If this is your first swap, you want to know the rules of the game! There are many ways to exchange garments, so make sure you are in tune with the event you are going to. Important questions include the level of formality of the swap, if somebody else checks the garments for admittance, it there is a strict brought-1-take-1 policy in place. Of course, there will always be people happy to explain you the event in situ, but at least I appreciate prior knowledge before stepping into something new. And it is good to know these things when selecting what to bring to the swap. So these are all posts about swaps and lessons learnt in chronological order:
February 2017: Why We Swap and How.
October 2017: September Clothes’ Swap Recap.
February 2018: February (5th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap.
May 2018: May (6th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap.
Step 1: Vision building
Now back to you! Having a clear vision on how you want to dress helps a lot, both for editing the exisiting (the key question being ‘does the future me wants to wear that?’) and in moments when the Swap is flooding you with garments you never wanted that suddenly look kind of cute: Vision-building for your wardrobe.
Step 2: Editing
Preparation for a swap is a very good reason to take a good look on what you already have and see if there are garments that no longer fit your body, your style, your life. The internets will offer you a million ways to do a wardrobe revision, here you have my proposals: Constant Gardener: Edit your wardrobe! and Wardrobe pruning for minimalists: KonMari stairway to heaven.
Step 3: Sorting
Once you have a pile of bye-bye garments, the next task is to decide which ones are worth bringing to the swap and which ones are not. A swap is not a textile recycling plant to bring your rags to! Take your textile garbage to where it belongs, in case of Barcelona, the orange Roba Amiga containers or your local deixalleria / punt verd. I suggest the key question of: would you lend this garment to a friend? Like, if a friend visiting you had lost their luggage on their way, would this be something you would offer them? Things NOT to bring to a swap include anything truly worn out (unless it’s a vintage leather jacket), permanently stained, broken… if you think that the unravelled seam can be easily fixed, fix it! And wash it all, of course. Remember, a clothes swap is karma made into an event: if people bring sad rags, we have only sad rags to pick from. Here you have examples of ‘what I’ll bring to the next swap’ posts with descriptions of my reasons to send garments away from my wardrobe: We shall swap again and September swap + my outgoing pieces.
Step 4: Paying attention to the materials
Not all fibers are made equal and in the world of fast fashion there are sometimes very idiotic fiber choices, like using thick synthetic fabrics for summer garments or lining natural fiber garments with synthetics. So pay attention to the material tags while you are editing and sorting to find out what are your favorite – and least favorite – materials, especially if you are discarding something because you just cannot breathe while wearing it. More on fibers, here: Get to know your fibers (and stop cutting the tags).
Step 5: Wishlisting
At this point you should have a solid vision of how you want to dress in the nearest future, a pile of swap offerings and a pile of textile garbage. And an emptier wardrobe… So now the question is: do I need anything to complete my wardrobe? (If you did the full ‘brainy’ process from Constant Gardener: Edit your wardrobe! you already have a list, congratulations!) Of course, swap is not fairy magic that fulfills all the wishes, but knowing what you are looking for helps. Especially if you get carried away by pretty things and
good deals free stuff. As with all vintage hunting, there is always space for serendipity and the inexpected, unimagined treasure, but you might want to know that you do not need more t-shirts while a shortish skirt for colder months would be a great addition. This is an example of my wishlists:
And for the September swap I’ve decided to go a level up in imagining detailed imagination, so I made a Pinterest board. While even the internets might not have ready-to-pin exact photos, I really enjoyed this exercise, because it also serves to refine your desires. We all know that when we say ‘I want a new bodycon’ or ‘I need a white blouse’ it’s not just any generic garment. If you then decide to relax your criteria or find an even better cut than you had imagined, cool, but clear desires really help. Sometimes it even gets too much, if you keep hunting for the right garment: Swap VI and the problem with the threadbare.
Following these steps you should be ready to swap happily and fruitfully! Here are just additional mini-points:
If there is a Facebook event, tick that you are going and share the event on your timeline! Diffusion really helps, especially to you as you get a bigger event to find your whlist items at.
If you want to get more involved in the event, ask the organizer if you can volunteer with something. The most likely answer will be yes as there are so many things to do. And you will be sudddenly part of the organizing team and will have an even better entry-way to make new friends at the event, and feel superuseful and sustainable.
It’s OK to bring back something you picked up at the last swap. This mode of garment acquisition is the safest way to experiment and has the best return policy: Curating the 100% comfort wardrobe.
Have a solid breakfast before! And try your best to not to be horribly hungovered. For your own wellbeing. The format of my swaps is a Saturday morning pica-pica with beer or vermouth (and water, and tea in winter), but snacks won’t do enough for your empty stomach.
Enjoy the event! It’s a party, after all. And a party filled with likeminded people who don’t mind that typical second-hand smell – I still have no clue where that comes from, the internets says it’s just humans – so take your time to socialize and make friendships.
Do you have any swap experiences? Additional tips or rituals you do to prepare? What’s your best-ever (or just latest) swap find?