February (5th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap

Every swap is a whirlwind of happiness! I’m worried beforehand and tired afterwards, but it gives so much meaning and so much satisfaction that my high during the events must be palpable. Another one came and went, and here is what I’ve learnt (see below for all the previous lessons and the logic behind the events):

Lesson 1: Ask for help!

What it looks like when I’m heading for a swap! Yeah, sore back and arms is part of the deal.

Liisa left for York, and I was left figuring out how will I do it all on my own. So I asked for help in the event, and help I got! I am immensely grateful to Mara, Coco, Margareta and Patricia for showing up on Saturday morning and then co-owning the event throughout the day + Aina, Silvia, Paola and Laura for chipping in with the wrap-up. It totally worked, we should have done this much earlier, and I’m looking forward to the next time we meet!

Thank you, Mara!

Lesson 2: Treat Facebook event stats with a bigger pinch of salt!

On Facebook this event went beyond any other I had organized. 11k reached and 336 saying that they are interested or coming while the previous event had reached 3.8k and 88 ‘interested/going’. See the difference? It was pleasant to see it take off, but I panicked just a teeny tiny bit and feared disorder and chaos… that never happened. There were certainly enough people but not too much, for the first time we ran out of food, there were less garment leftovers than previously (only one trip to Banc Expropriat), and people did not want to leave so it lasted longer. Great part of the vermouth success was our in-house DJ Diederik who not only entertained us with afro-latin tunes but also had mobilized his friends and colleagues making our swaps have even more PhD holders for m2 than before.

I’d say that Spring 2018 will be all about reds, blues and florals!

Lesson 3: Be (even) more cautious with the false positives!

We had our first true false positive case of somebody’s belonging being swapped away without their consent. Luisa had forgotten her scarf in the area dedicated to personal belongings, so at the end it was assumed that it was a swap garment somebody had discarded and away it went on the neck of another person five minutes before Luisa came back looking for her scarf. Ugh! Seems that the internets have helped us to bring that scarf back home, but it was still highly unpleasant for everybody involved. We already had this *almost* happen before, but this now is a real lesson that (1) it has to be repeated that the personal belongings’ area is exactly that, and (2) in case of doubt and ‘forgotten items’ found there, those garments have to go into the seed suitcase and wait either their owners or the next swap.

Lesson 4: Put more focus on garment stories!

Turns out it’s not only me who loves garment stories. People like connections, d-oh, they squeal when the garment has this little additional touch of personality, the proof that it has been pre-loved! We had been holding on to these three garments for a few swaps, because weird garments need more time to find their new weird people, but it finally happened. Seeing that writing the good-bye notes on the spot did not really work well, my plan for the next one is to poke people before the event to prepare their garment stories at home. And these have a double function: saying a proper farewell from those giving the garment away, and already steeping with meaning and putting a name on a piece of clothing for those picking it up at a Swap. So start making your garment love notes, people!


I had no time to browse during the event, and nothing caught my eye from afar (sometimes that happens, that was the case of the Esprit floral shirt during the September (4th) Swap). And, as I had so many helpers this time, I have no idea what was left over and what of that was selected to stay in the seed suitcase. But don’t cry for me, Argentina! First of all, living out of my full wardrobe still feels very abundant, and I have my sneaky keeper’s privileges.

Come week of the Swap our little room felt like a storage unit: there was the seed suitcase and stuff that Lesia, Liliana and Liisa (yes, I have a strong preference for ‘L’ friends) had left. So I went through them just for fun… and scored my new favorite t-shirt and a yoga shorts that will replace the old ones once the short pant season comes!


For previous Swap updates and lessons see:

February 22, 2017: Why We Swap and How
May 10, 2017: We Shall Swap Again
May 31, 2017: May Swap Recap
September 6, 2017: September Swap + My Outgoing Pieces
October 4, 2017: September Clothes’ Swap Recap


Following Monbiot’s reframe that the post-industrial economy are converting us – in the best case scenario – in the people who volunteer at the food bank and run marathons [and] in [our] time off, [we] work for money, what are your activities that are supposedly reproductive or even non-productive (in the usual GDP sense) but that give you enough meaning and joy to carry you through the working week (yeah, I know, I’m at a low point of my thesis that does not spark joy)?

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