Swap till you drop
by Laura Lushington
That dress you bought last summer is hanging in your closet, tags attached, never to be worn. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but wouldn’t it be great if you could switch it out for something different? Something you would actually wear? Well, you can. Take Off Your Clothes Calgary is an event put on by the S.W.A.P. team, a North American non-profit organization, where you can swap your clothes while helping out the environment, your city and a charity.
“It’s great for the community, it brings everyone together, especially the fashion community in Calgary which is quite small still,” said Vanessa Erickson, the public relations and marketing coordinator for the Calgary S.W.A.P. team. “It’s great for the environment because it doesn’t require huge companies to manufacture, ship—all those things to make clothing and, in our situation, it’s really great because a charity benefits from it as well.”
At Take Off Your Clothes Calgary, people either drop off their clothing beforehand, call to have their clothing picked up or bring the items they want to swap to the event. For every piece that is deemed swap-worthy, you receive a ticket to shop with. All items not swapped are donated to a charity.
Accepted are women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, accessories and shoes that are in good, wearable condition. Items not accepted include lingerie, underwear and bathing suits.
Clothing is placed on the floor sporadically throughout the day. “My advice to people is that you do pay an admission to get in, but you do get stamped, meaning that you could come at the beginning, go for lunch and then come back,” said Hines.
She also advises people to set some ground rules before coming to the event. “When you’re giving clothing away for a swap, decide what you want to bring back in,” she said, noting that otherwise it can be overwhelming. To keep with the environmentally friendly theme, it is also suggested that you bring reusable bags to keep your items in while you shop and to take them home in.
“You can go to a swap and literally come away with 40, 50 amazing pieces that if you were to buy it brand new, would deplete you bank account,” said Hines. If you’re feeling uneasy about swapping, Erickson says putting the idea into perspective can help to relieve some of your worries. “I think the biggest hesitation for swapping is that they don’t think they’re going to get quality clothes in return,” she said. “So, I would tell them that I’ve seen a Prada bag go through our swap with the tags on it… We’ve pre-screened the clothes to make sure they’re clean and in good repair.”
This year’s Take Off Your Clothes will be held June 12 at the Soho Bar and Grill and will benefit Goodwill Industries of Alberta. In addition to the swap, raffle tickets will be sold for items donated by local designers. For information visit www.theswapteam.org or the Take Off Your Clothes Calgary Facebook page.