Fashion keeps changing and it can be tempting to buy one too many pieces of clothing just for the sake to keep up with trends. We are in the era of fast fashion and this is leading to an environmental emergency. The fashion industry contributes to 20% of the global waste and 85% of textiles end up in landfills instead of being reused. To make a pair of denim jeans 10,000 litres of water are required to grow 1kg of cotton required to make a pair of jeans.
The United Nations Climate Change is working in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Environment to enhance and promote sustainable fashion brands which are taking part using a less destructive business model. Those are celebrated in the Green Fashion Week.
In this article, I will cover local initiatives to support slow fashion and what our local vintage stores are doing to promote this in many of our cities. There are many ways we can all contribute in reducing the impact of fast fashion such as swapping clothes, recycling, shopping locally and second-hand shopping.
Fashion Libraries are one of many ways to add character to your closet and keep up with the constantly changing fashion trends in a sustainable way.
Bij Priester, located in The Hague, allows you to choose any clothes you like from a large Fashion Library. You’ll have to bring them back for something else after 2 weeks. The benefit to this? No laundry needed and new clothes every two weeks! All you need is a membership of 20 euros a month. They also organise clothes swap events and workshops for clothes repair to recycle and give a new life to garments.
If you are taking a stroll at Folkest Park, in Malmö Sweden, make sure to stop by this large yellow box. It’s a library and a wardrobe too! Here you can swap your old clothes in exchange for something new or add on a quirky item to your outfit of the day. It’s a free initiative but if you are swapping your old clothes make sure they are clean. It’s a win-win solution for both environment and wallet!
Buy, Sell & Trade
Another cool initiative which is gaining popularity among the numerous vintage stores is to swap your clothes for other items of the same value or to make a small profit and more room in your closet.
This philosophy is applied by one of our spots in Los Angeles: Buffalo Exchange. Here you can make some space either in your suitcase if you are travelling or your closet if you are a local. You can also sell some preloved clothes and exchange them for something else, all you need is a valid ID to sell/trade.
If you are a fashion enthusiast and you are visiting on the fashion capitals make sure to stop at BIVIO and grab some fashionable piece of clothing in Milan. Their mission is to give a new life to items that would be otherwise thrown away. Here you can swap, buy and sell. They organise numerous flash sales, DJ sets and happy hours too!
Fashion and Charities
Izmenjevalnica is a swap shop which organises events in collaboration with the red cross in Ljubiana. Here you can bring food and hygiene products in exchange for clothes. It’s such a good idea and it also promotes solidarity in society.
We also found a charity workshop spot in Bratislava: Nosene (means already worn). Here they combine second-hand shop, design shop and charity workshop. A percentage of their profits made from selling clothes goes to help finance’s women shelters in Slovakia. They also organise collections to help someone out, for example by buying specific items you could help someone affording to go to university. Another great initiative to give back to the community!
Shop the “Old Fashioned” way
In Rome at Mercato Testaccio, you can bring clothes, jewellery and costumes you no longer use and swap them for items of the same values at “Il Baratto” (Baratto meaning: to give and receive items without using a medium of change such as money.)
Here the dream of shopping at a low cost comes true! All you need to do is to bring your unwanted items and once they are sold you obtain a shopping voucher to shop in-store cashless.
Kilo sale shopping events are gaining popularity among vintage shops enthusiasts. It’s a great way to shop, all you need to do is to pick from a wide selection of clothes, weight your bag and pay based on the weight of your shopping (usually 1 kg equals 15£). Some events charge an entry fee and others are free to attend.
One of our favourite spots, Blue Rinse Vintage in Manchester, offers budget-friendly clothing as well as vintage kilo sales events at the weekends. This allows you to pick new items for your wardrobe at 15£ per kilo.
Other cool initiatives
De Ceuvel, in Amsterdam, is a sustainable island, this is the home of a sustainable community which aims to save the world. They have different workshops and events with sustainability as a theme and of course, they also organise clothes swaps!
In Vancouver, MEC is the outdoor gear heaven. Here you can rent some equipment for adventures in the snow! A cool idea, especially if are travelling and you don’t have much room in your luggage. They also have online gears swaps for both clothes and equipment. So if you have bought some new equipment and need to free up some space they are the ones who’ll help you out!
These are some of our favourite initiatives about clothes swap and slow fashion. They positively impact the environment, the wallet and the society. It’s a great way to also add quirky features to outfits and wardrobes with input from locals worldwide. A cooler alternative to souvenir shopping! So next time you are thinking about shopping think twice, you’ll be amazed by what hidden treasures are waiting for you in charity shops, second-hand shops and swapping clothes events!