City opens up to clothes swap

City opens up to clothes swap

Hand-me-down culture, popular within families, is getting a new avatar, and is seen as a sustainable alternative to fast fashion

People are exchanging their clothes, shoes and accessories with friends. The practice, they believe, puts the brakes on excessive fashion consumption.

Many see this as a way to declutter their wardrobes and contribute to sustainability. The concept is gaining ground in Bengaluru.

Communities like Exchange Room host swapping events round the year to create awareness, and inspire and encourage people to give their items an extended life-cycle.      

Prithvi Rao, co-founder, Exchange Room, says the idea is to create a culture of mindful consumption. 

“We curate sustainable and green shopping experiences through our events. We select the best pieces and curate items that are in excellent quality. We open the event to the public looking for good-quality clothes,” she says. 

A wardrobe swap, she believes, helps people contribute to sustainability and give the clothes an extended life.

“Instead of buying more and more pieces when you already have something lying in the wardrobe in great condition, swapping it with someone contributes to a sustainable lifestyle,” Prithvi explains.

The campaigners have a term for good-quality clothes and accessories you can give away: they call them ‘preloved.’

In the US, this is already a mainstream trend. In the next 10 to 15 years, preloved shopping is going to take over fast fashion in that country, says Prithvi. 

“When you shop preloved, you are not harming the environment in any way. While you are at it, you are also having fun trying out different kinds of outfits, shoes, bags and jewellery,” says Sai Sangeet, co-founder at the community. 

Bengaluru scene

“People have opened up to this concept which wasn’t the case four years ago. The only thing they worry about is hygiene. It is important to make sure the items given for swap are in great condition, freshly washed and ironed. There is a taboo still, but soon enough wardrobe swap is going to be a mainstream concept,” says Sai. 

Many people have wardrobes overflowing with clothes. The need to want something new and fresh every six months only adds to cluttered closets, explains Sai. 

The good news, she says, is that a large number of people in India are now becoming aware of the impact of fast fashion. They are willing to make a change and concepts like wardrobe swap are helping them. 

City-based designer Runa Ray advocates sustainable fashion through her work. She recently partnered with the United Nations to bring sustainable solutions to the fashion industry. 

“As teenagers, wardrobe swap was common between friends and family but as we became financially independent, it started dawning upon us that we can buy new clothes. It is a wave or a circular format in fashion: we are going back to basics again,” she says.

Besides wardrobe swap, there are other ways to prolong the life of a garment.

Rather than discarding something we don’t wear, upcycling it is a cool way. Rent-your-wardrobe is another initiative that can help in sustainable fashion, observes Runa. 

Bengaluru offers huge potential, as many fashionistas look for unique additions to their closet.

“If they find something they need, especially in the ethnic garments category, they wouldn’t mind swapping something with a second-hand outfit. As designers, we need to make consumers aware of their buying choices,” she asserts. 

Educating people about the detrimental aspects that fast fashion can have is another way to go about it, she says.

Hygiene concern

It is true people worry about hygiene when they swap. It is important to wash, iron and give away clothes in good condition. Give away, exchange or upcycle your clothes.

How it helps

- You save money.

- Your best fashion items live on.

- Your wardrobe gets diverse.

- It is good for the planet.

Contact: to swap your clothes

Exchange Room -


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