I have finally visited a Clothing Exchange. I always liked the idea of a clothing swap, but had never seen one.
It was definitely worth the wait. The Melbourne Clothing Exchange at BMW Edge (Federation Square) was one of the most interesting events I’ve been to in a while.
By their own definition, the Clothing Exchange company are “a professional swapping service that promotes the simple notion of swapping instead of shopping for a better wardrobe and better world. The Clothing Exchange mediates the exchange of clothing donated by patrons in the form of a clothes swapping event.”
At the start of the Exchange everyone had to line up, buy tickets ($25) and hand over their clothes. (You could also pre-book tickets online.) The maximum number of clothes you could swap was six, but the ladies were happy to donate any extras to charity.
They were quite strict about the clothes. These are the specifications according to their website:
What to Swap
~ Garments clean, folded or pressed
~ Garments likely to be valued by others
~ Free of faults or with minor faults that are easy to repair
(E.g. A missing button)
~ No longer your favourites, you must be emotionally detached!
~ We cannot swap garments that are piled, pongy or straying too far from perfect. We can’t exchange undergarments, swimwear, tracksuits or anything polarfleece!
As you can see, the quality of clothes has to be pretty good.
Once you swap your garments (and for the record, you can also take shoes and bags), you receive buttons in exchange. This is the ‘currency’ used to ‘buy’ the clothes you like.
It takes a while for the women to sort through the clothes and check everyone in, so be prepared to wait about half an hour. Then they explain the process (pick the clothes you like and exchange your buttons for them), and off everyone goes!
And good golly, it’s like a stampede! If you see one of the staff hang up something you like, I strongly recommend you run and grab it asap when they start. It reminded me of what the Myer sales used to be like, with hordes of people trying to break down the doors. That was probably the only part I didn’t enjoy. Everyone was a little pushy.
Everything that was hung up was in good condition though, and a lot of it was new with tags still. It was all set up like a large shop, and for a displays that was set up in half an hour it was an excellent job.
I think what I really enjoyed about it is that I got some unusual clothes I wouldn’t normally buy for myself. And I’m really keen to wear them! I think it’s encouraged me to try some different styles out. (Not sure if I’m tall enough to get away with the blue jacket, but we’ll see…)
I think it’s worth checking out, even though I didn’t spot the Gucci I saw mentioned on their website. The one I attended was the last for 2011, but keep an eye peeled for the next in 2012!