Never mind getting money for old rope – the latest craze to hit Cambridge involves getting rid of unwanted clothes and getting a stylish new wardrobe in return. Swishing, or clothing exchange, involves participants giving up unwanted or unused clothes, shoes or accessories, and in return picking up someone else’s cast-offs free of charge.
The practice was founded in 2000 when Lucy Shea, founder of green PR firm Futerra, and her work colleagues wanted to come up with a way to combine a love of retail shopping without contributing to increased consumption.
Monetary value does not come into the equation, with no cash changing hands and participants not being expected to have to take home something worth a similar price to the items they brought.
The practice is simply about getting rid of unwanted items without sending them to landfill, according to Andrew Martin of the Cambridge Design Collective (CDA). The CDA’s first swishing event in Cambridge took place at 18 Jesus Lane, and proved to be roaring success with bargain-hungry fashionistas.
He said: “It went really well. We had planned for the event to run from noon-4pm, but it only lasted until 2pm in the end as we hardly had anything left.”
The high-quality clothes on offer were brought to the event for all sorts of different reasons, he explained.
“A lot of people find they want to get rid of impulse buys, some of which are unworn and still have their tags on – or are now too small or too big for them to wear,” he says. “The swishing, or clothes swapping, phenomenon started to come to the forefront of public awareness last year.
“It’s a way of taking unwanted clothes and original garments and swapping them for something that someone else doesn’t want, and that you do.
At the Cambridge event, stylists were on hand to try and persuade visitors to actually take their own clothes home with them, but using stylish additions and modifications to prevent them being consigned to the back of the wardrobe.
A spokesman said: “Cambridge Design Collective is a new, independent and vibrant fashion-focused collective of designers, models, photographers, illustrators, hair and make up stylists, filmmakers, visual artists, fashion writers, journalists, independent retailers and those with an interest in these areas.”
To find out about the collective’s future events, visit www. cambridgedesigncollective.org.