Is ‘swishing’ the next big step for fashion?

With fast fashion at an all time high, and industry leaders fighting for it to slow down, ‘swishing’ is a phrase that’s receiving a lot of media attention right now. But what is it? And how can you do it?

What is swishing?

Swishing is a clothes swapping event where instead of buying clothes, you trade your old ones in return for an item that belongs to somebody else. It’s becoming a huge deal in London, with an increasing number of sustainable fashion icons hosting these pop-up parties.

Coined in the USA, the concept is simple – bring your unwanted clothes to a swishing party or event, and swap clothes for ‘swishing tokens’. Then, use these tokens to take home something new from the rails. Old to others, new to you, garments that catch your eye.


Why should you go to a swishing event?


Recent studies suggest that around 30% of clothing hasn’t been worn in over a year, while the cost of this unused clothing is around £30 billion. Plus, if you want some new clothes but don’t have much cash, swishing is the chance to get a new wardrobe – for completely free.

We spoke to experts from The Eden Project to find out how to host the perfect swishing party.


Set a date and tell the world

Book a venue and set a date. Think about how much space you want, and whether you want to partner with another event or organisation. A venue that comes with tables and chairs will be very useful, to save having to find and transport them from somewhere else.

Make sure it also has good power outlets, toilets and a kitchen if you intend to serve food and drink. Once everything’s decided, get some posters made up and publicise on social media and in local press. Make contact with your local council’s recycling team as they might agree to support the event with funding, staff or simply to take away and recycle any leftover items.


Agree some rules

“Decide how you want the swishing to work. Some events use tokens to encourage people to bring plenty of items, so for each item you bring, you get that many to exchange for new clothes; the more you bring the more you can take!

This also lets volunteers check the donated clothes first, to make sure they are good enough to give to someone else. Figure out if you want donors to  organise clothes first, e.g. women, men and kids.”

Some events let people browse before the swishing begins. Here’s one example:


Add something extra

“Swishes can be as simple as bring and take, but if you want to add something extra, consider making contact with local clothing or craft shops to offer fixing services. ”

You could team with a personal stylist to give tips on the day, or even put on a sustainable fashion show for guests to enjoy.


How to set the event up before it starts

“Before the event, make sure you have everything you need including tables, clothing rails and coat hangers. If a few people pitch in, or a local shop helps out, then this can all be pulled together in no time.

Clothing can be sorted before the event, if you have it, but people won’t expect it to be arranged into anything other than men’s, women’s and children’s so you can be super organised or just lay/hang items out as you get them on the day.”


The big day

“On the day make sure a volunteer is monitoring the swishing area at all times, and that there’s enough drinks for everyone.”

Whether you’re serving tea, coffee or even a glass of fizz, everyone should have an option.

Background can make things feel more lively, and having someone to take photos on the day, or doing a live Instagram story will be great content.

“If you expect or hope people to come throughout the day then staggering any activities would work well, as would holding back some clothes to make sure there is enough to go around towards the end of the event. Or you could encourage people to arrive at a particular time for a ‘first come, first served’ approach.

“Near the end of the event, it might make sense to let anyone take as much as they like, so you’re not left with heaps, and a cut-off point for clothing donations will mean that you’re less likely to be left with more than you can cope with! If you get foot traffic, you could allow people to make a donation to take some clothes.”

“Any leftover items can either be recycled or donated. Large numbers of clothing can be very heavy, so make sure you have an appropriate way to either store or transport everything at the end of the event! If you were able to weigh the total amount swapped, you could then generate some great statistics on the impact of your event.”