Published date: 8 January 2020

Join the Swish and Style Clothes Swap Revolution

  • 83% of Brits own at least six items of clothing not worn in the last year – some admit to having 200 items they don’t wear*
  • 24% of unworn items were bought for a specific event with no plans to wear again*
  • Finding a pre-loved #wardrobetreasure gives almost half of shoppers a buzz similar to buying brand new – a sign of our desire to live more sustainably*
  • Neurological studies show that the reward networks in the brain activate during acts of generous giving, even when we benefit from these, so clothes swaps make you feel happy

2020 is set to be the year of the clothes swap aka ‘Swish’, as awareness of the environmental impact of fashion continues to rise and people strive to cut down on waste.

More than 300,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year and according to a report by the waste charity WRAP if clothes stayed in active use for three years (9 months more than the UK average), it would reduce their carbon, water and waste footprints by 20 to 30 per cent. Which is why the North London Waste Authority’s Wise Up to Waste campaign is encouraging people to swap unwanted clothes for something to cherish at a series of Swish and Style giant clothes swaps across north and central London in 2020.

Launching officially on 8 January at Dragon Hall in Covent Garden, the January event provides the perfect opportunity to put New Year Resolutions to waste less into practice and Swish any unloved Christmas fashion gifts.

Chair of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), Councillor Clyde Loakes, said: “Our research shows you’re likely to have at least six items in your wardrobe that you haven’t worn for a year. We’re asking people to dig them out and swap them for something they will wear. More mindful fashion consumption enables people to save money and will help tackle the climate emergency”.

What’s more clothes swapping is good for your mental wellbeing, as Fashion Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell explains: Consumers agree that the sustainable fashion movement is “an ideal situation they would be striving to work toward”. However, often there are barriers to being sustainable. Firstly, sustainable fashion collections can be expensive, which of course can negatively impact our wellbeing. Secondly, fast-fashion items are based on fast-changing trends and wearing clothes ‘of the moment’ plays a key role in how we want to be perceived. Clothes swapping events like Swish & Style remove these two issues completely. Not only will this event allow you to revamp your wardrobe without the financial strain, but the free repair and alteration workshops  will provide an opportunity to make any ‘not quite right’ finds into match perfect gems – so you’ll  appear more confident in your attire. 

But the benefits don’t stop there, according to Forbes-Bell In the UK, more than 30% of our unwanted clothing currently goes to landfill. Therefore, by swapping instead of dumping your clothes, you’ll be lightening your environmental footprint while experiencing psychological benefits. Neurological studies have shown that the reward networks in the brain activate during acts of generous giving, even when we benefit from these acts ourselves. Also, clothes swapping enables you to engage in more mindful consumption, so rather than letting your style be dictated by big-label brands and high-street giants, you’ll be able to make a conscious decision about what styles truly suit you, your values and your lifestyle. 

“So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to Swish and Style!”

Fashion Editor and Stylist Wendy Rigg who will be at the launch event on 8 January to offer event-goers styling advice and help them pick out fabulous outfits they will want to wear again and again, agrees: “With vintage being so on-trend, there couldn't be a better time to start swishing. Clothes swaps provide the fun of fashion shopping without the guilt or waste. As we step into 2020 why not give it a go”. 

Fast Fashion Therapy will also be at the launch event offering free upcycling and repair tips.

Admission: Free - you can register here.

More information: wiseuptowaste.org.uk/swish

How it works: Bring good quality clothes and accessories you no longer want, swap them for tokens and then ‘spend’ those tokens on items you love.  You can also take part in an upcycling workshop on repair and alterations and/or you can show your support for the campaign online by posting pictures of your #wardrobetreasure finds.

Items accepted:

  • Clean and wearable women’s and men’s clothes
  • Clean and undamaged shoes and accessories like hats, scarves and gloves

Please don’t bring the following:

  • Damaged clothes, with holes or stains
  • Jewellery
  • Underwear, bath towels, bedding (unless unworn/unused in original sealed packaging)
  • Swimwear
  • Stockings, tights and leggings