I wish to… Swish!

I like clothes and I like shopping for them but over Christmas I looked at my wardrobe and decided enough was enough; no more fast fashion, and I’ve been looking for guilt free shopping alternatives ever since.

I’ve adopted the following Fashion rules

  • Do I really need a new…..?
  • Will I wear it more then once?
  • Is it really worth the cash?
  • Is it well made?
  • And no more fast fashion-stores; Primark being at top of my list.

In January my first initiative was actually selling old clothes which I no longer wear on ebay and using the money to either buy vintage items that I couldn’t usually afford, expanding the organic fibres in my wardrobe or saving the money for a rainy day. This has been working brilliantly as I’ve sold in total 22 items and made some shrewd purchases including a pair of Vintage Terry de Havilland wedges. I’ve only had to make a couple of trips to the post office and in the process cleared space in my wardrobe and am now the proud owner of a great pair of shoes with some cash put aside for that rainy day.

In February I attended a vintage fair at Northumbria University which was a great idea – I could revive something old, I’ve got a sewing machine and I’m not afraid to use it. I went for a look with no real intention of buying anything in particular I was more curious to see what was on offer and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of wearable clothes available including the original 80’s stone wash jeans which seemed to be hanging on most rails. I was quite taken by a cocktail dress, however, using my ‘Fashion rules’ I decided I didn’t really need a cocktail dress that was a bit impractical and would gather dust in my wardrobe in the queue for the next ebay clear out.

Now March is here it’s time for the next stop on my ethical fashion expedition – Swishing – which is basically a nice way of saying clothes swapping. I’ve heard about swishing events and activities before when a group of friends come together bringing all the unwanted and unworn but well cared for clothes and accessories to a house for an evening of wine and of course clothes swapping.

This has always had a certain appeal for the social aspect and the opportunity to get new clothes without spending a penny, apart from the bottle of wine that accompanies you. I’ve quite fancied having my own party but wasn’t sure of how it really worked. So when a friend at Daisy Green Magazine organised an event at Newcastle University, I jumped at the chance of attending. I took a dress with me that I had worn a couple of times but was never really sure about – it was a nice dress that needed a new wearer. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I handed my dress in and received a ticket which would allow me to enter the swishing event. The clothes were placed on racks in sizes, shoes and accessories on the tables, everything else was spread out in categories tops, bottoms, sportswear etc.

The swishers were given a twenty minute preview to see what was on offer which basically was the only opportunity to choose what you wanted to take home. As you can imagine 300 women all looking for something to swap was the equivalent of the first day of the sales and I was slightly nervous about the actual swish; after all this was just the preview!

So the preview was complete and I’d spotted a couple of items which included a denim skirt first choice and a dress which was my second choice. All 300 of us left the room and stood at the doors once again but this time with my ticket in my hand. I needed this to swap for an item of clothing. I stood nervously wondering if I’d survive the scrum and dreaded the door opening for fear of falling over and being trampled on by hundreds of swishers. Luckily it wasn’t too bad, as soon as the doors opened everyone split up and headed for the clothing they eyed up earlier. I managed to secure my skirt and had another quick look around but it was now really really busy as clothes were grabbed racks were stripped and a few arguments broke out over who picked what up first. Overall the atmosphere was great as everyone was essentially shopping for free but a word to the wise it was definitely not for the faint hearted!

If you prefer a more relaxed shopping experience then it’s hard to beat shopping on-line, the only contest about what to grab here is between the mouse and your favourite fair-trade cuppa. If ebay isn’t for you then there’s some really excellent ethical fashion sites emerging, www.hug.co.uk obviously being a favourite of mine.

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