- by Guest Contributor Jerah Coviello.
Could it really be true that an entire new wardrobe awaits you for free? The answer is yes. Millenials—18-34 year olds like myself, so attuned to connecting at social events for networking ops, dating or meeting new people—are leading a nationwide movement to look fashion fresh while not breaking the bank by hosting well-organized, hot-list clothing swaps. They’ve appeared from the ports of San Francisco to New York City, taking the age-old concept of bartering to a whole new level: organized, devised, stylized and digitized. The so-called “Swapping Movement” takes a yard sale and turbo-boosts it into an entire scene, backed and packed with purpose. Swaps guarantee a good time with friends and the potential for new acquaintances or networking, while surprising and delighting attendees with takeaways for their small but very stylish apartment or room back at home. (watch the video)
Attention. It’s something big retail clothing brands have been losing, especially from the 25 to 30-year-old age group armed with a laptops and a world connection, who want something more than a walk through the mall. Seeking style influencers, peer reviews or to be a voice of influence themselves, Millenials are initiating and discovering clothing swaps as a way to leverage their wardrobe as currency. Not just limited to clothing, swaps are taking off worldwide in categories such as food, hobbies and luxury home or vacation swaps. And, unlike our moms and pops, the concept has jettisoned from the neighborhood into the digital world where our youthful training on eBay and Craigslist has paved the way for more niched-in websites such as Swap.com and Swapstyle.com, frequented from the luxury of our own laptops and a coffee shop.
What makes clothing swaps appealing is the current state of the economy. According to a WSL Strategic Retail survey, 80 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said it was key to get the lowest price on most things they buy, up from 69 percent two years earlier.
With the confluence of three factors—the recession, environmental awareness and a need for sense of community—women are hosting intimate, informal clothing swaps with their besties and larger, well-organized themed swaps to bring together community closets.
A fourth factor that makes clothes swaps appealing is a personable low-key shopping experience. For most of my girlfriends, clothes shopping is a high-pressure experience. It takes time, something that few of us claim to have. It takes confidence to walk smack into all of those oversexed, gorgeous female stereotype reminders of who we are not. It takes self-control to walk away from what we can’t have, and it takes knowing your style to purchase the right pieces to add to your closet. This is why women sit on over 60 percent of their closets. Millenials, many of whom are college-educated women with a big bill of student loans, have gained an even larger payoff of awareness and wisdom that has catapulted them towards building a must-have connection of mind, body and spirit in their work and play lifestyles.
How this plays into fashion is a big issue. Fashion is the second-largest wasteful industry (next to agriculture), and it’s worth a billion dollars. Women are seeking socially responsible brands more than ever, asking for fashion with purpose, fashion made of eco-friendly materials and fashion that gives back. Women are online shopping and swapping, giving online peer reviews through social media, voting on each other’s style sense online and even YouTubing their newest finds. The female consumer’s fashion voice is getting louder, while fashion is actually gaining momentum. Big retailers are speeding up their design houses to produce small monthly or seasonal collections, while the Internet allows for smaller independent designers to enter the market through websites such as Etsy.com or chictopia.com. Overall, there have never been so many fashion options out there for women to go mainstream or independent.
Ladies, are you ready to join your local clothing swap? I’m ready for you. Attend the 50Tuesday Clothing Swap & Trunk Show hosted my mom’s and my very own eco-fashion line, ecovogue365, this Tuesday, May 15, from 6 – 8 p.m. Limited to 50 women, tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at door. Bring 5-10 bright, bold, spring or summer pieces (clothing or shoes) that are in good condition and on trend to swap, and walk away with one large BAGGU bag you can fill to the brim with your new swap finds. We will have local styling on the spot by Urban Eco Beauty, delicious local chocolates provided by local chocolatier Porcelana and bubbly from PRP Wine International. Plus we’ll have a fun Photobooth by local fashion photographer Unusual Exposures and live video by our local videographer Stephen McFadden of McFadden Creative. Come out and be a part of a movement!