Our First Clothing Swap: An Experiment in Building Community

Define clothing swap:  An event where people, usually women, bring piles of their used clothing to swap.  Rules vary, but typically all the clothing is put in the middle of the room and at a set time everyone dives in, finding treasures.  At the end of the event any unwanted clothing is donated to a shelter or good cause.


Two weeks ago we held our first private after-hours clothing swap, aka "Naked Lady" party. 


It was amazing.


Transforming this beautiful space into one where women can thrive and connect and share their intimate belongings was so grand.  We pushed the racks to the side and occupied the front register with wine, brownies, chips and dip.  We each came away with treasures, and gave treasures which otherwise would have just disappeared from our lives.


One thing I love about a clothing swap is that you get to see where your clothing ends up.  Maybe it's on a dear friend, or a person who's about to become a dear friend.  Maybe you get to see it on someone who just shines in it, and you're happy to see your beloved garment gaining a new life of appreciation. 


By the end I had made several new friends and decided that having these private soirees is an absolute must for generating community.  In particular I was moved that this could be a venue for women gathering and drinking wine that is not a bar, which opens up this beautiful intimacy of womanhood and also, perhaps very importantly, a place where you can bring your kids. Why isn't this happening everywhere, I thought?  Well, it can happen here.


We donated the remaining items to the Assistance League of Bellingham, an organization that (unlike Goodwill) puts all their profits back into community scholarships and causes.  Goodwill's profits go towards a handful of CEOs, and they're notorious for underpaying and exploiting employees with disabilities.  At least in Bellingham, A. League is the way to go!


I'm sure we'll do another evening soiree or swap again in the next few months.  Stay tuned on our newsletter to find out when!  (sign up is below).


~ Amy