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tips and tricks to hosting a clothing exchange

photo by Becca Mchaffie

Author: Emma Hill 

Trying to reduce your carbon footprint and save money by not buying new clothing? Clothing exchanges are a fantastic way of switching up your wardrobe without spending a penny. bare market blogger Emma shares her recommendations on how to host a clothing exchange.

For my birthday this year I decided to host a clothing exchange and I absolutely loved it. A clothing exchange, or clothing swap, is an event where people bring clothing to trade and give away. The system is a win-win: the items you bring get a new life and you get something new (well, new to you) without having to purchase a brand new outfit.

Clothing exchanges are a fun way to spruce up your wardrobe while also extending the life cycle of your clothing. Maybe you have some clothes that don’t fit well anymore, or you have a few items that you aren’t wearing as much as you used to: you should host an exchange! Here are a few tips on how to get started.

photo by Priscilla du Preez

what items should be included

Pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, jackets, dresses: most clothing items can be traded at a clothing exchange. There are some, like socks and underwear, that some people might not want mixed in, so feel free to set restrictions. You can also invite guests to bring more than just clothes. It’s fun to add in things like shoes, jewellery, sunglasses and bags. These can be great since many are one-size-fits-all.

how to run the event

I find the best way to run a clothing exchange is to have an organized system so that everyone gets a turn to choose an item. If you let it be a free-for-all it can get hectic and overwhelming. Have all of your guests place their items in a designated spot and designate the first half hour as a time for everyone to peruse the selection without taking anything. Assign guests numbers randomly, then allow them to choose items according to that order. Once everyone has had the opportunity to pick something, then go around again.

photo by Shanna Camilleri 

what to do with remaining items

Even after the most successful clothing exchange, there will be items left over. If you’re feeling creative and have a sewing machine, you could try repurposing the excess, then pack the rest up for donation. Check online where the closest second-hand store is and arrange to drop them off. If possible, try to choose a store that is not-for-profit or charitable. Here are a few options: 


Glow Clothing Bank, 161 Bartley Drive

GLOW (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear) provides free, quality clothing to those that struggle with limited income. They also provide clothing to Mount Sinai Hospital's emergency ward to ensure that patients are adequately clothed upon leaving the hospital. 

YSM Mission Double Take Thrift Store, 310 Gerrard Street East 

Double Take thrift store belongs to the Yonge Street Mission (YSM) and is an employment/training initiative where gently used, high quality clothing, furniture and housewares can be purchased at affordable prices. All profits go towards benefitting the Mission and its causes.


Dress for Success Toronto, 5150 Yonge Street

Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organization that aims to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. If you have some women’s professional attire you’d like to donate, this is a great place for it! 


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