Going green, saving money, unique finds—the reasons people get involved in clothes swapping vary widely, and each person’s story is unique. In our Swapper Spotlight series, we feature individual stories of how different clothes swappers got started, their experiences while swapping, tips for great swapping experiences, photos of some of their swap finds, and other interesting tidbits that they share with us!
First up, meet Paivi Daisy Lundgren, whose transformation from shopper to swapper shows how powerful participating in the swapping community can be.
How did you get involved in clothes swapping?
I have been a bit of a shopaholic all my life, for both old and new clothes. I have always loved the excitement of sourcing secondhand clothes at charity shops especially as they became more international. A few years ago, this led to a mindset that pretty much prevented me from ever passing a charity or secondhand shop without popping in and buying something—I found myself making purchases just ‘for the sake of it’. This long-term habit (addiction?) led to money problems and tight storage space for all the clothes/ shoes/ handbags I had accrued. I did circulate the items I bought, but selling used clothes as a private person doesn’t pay, and quite frankly, I couldn’t afford to just donate all the time. Clothes swapping was a natural way for me to evolve my shopping habit.
Has clothes swapping changed you?
As more swapping events emerged, I gained a better awareness of how globally, communally and personally senseless my constant consuming was. I met people who had been in the same kind of (fully socially acceptable) spiral, in search of those ‘perfect pieces’ that we needed in order to ‘complete’ our lives—which was really just short-lived moments of happiness.
I can’t exactly explain how, but by starting to swap the clothes I didn’t wear, I gained a better understanding of my own needs. I have managed to make better use of my wardrobe space and to keep things constantly rotating—almost solely by swapping only—according to my taste, need and (ummm….) size. Exercise trousers, a swimsuit, and underwear are the only things that I have bought new in the last eight months. What’s great is that I can now easily pass by charity shops without stopping. I just think of the next swap I’m going to where I’ll get lovely new items for a nominal fee—or swap for free on the Swancy app!
Did you have any reservations about swapping?
Well, I was a little worried that there were going to be ladies fighting over garments . . . ! But I’ve yet to see any of this kind of behaviour. It is quite unbelievable, really. The swap groups seem to consist of such a variety of sizes, styles and ages that it ends up that you hardly ever see anyone disappointed. Plus the atmosphere is so friendly!
It sounds like you have embraced clothes swapping as a lifestyle! What are the events like? How do they vary?
I’ve been to many different-sized and differently organised swap events—from ones that are ‘designer only’ to ‘all accepted’. The greatest fun are the ones that have a social aspect to them, where you can spend a few hours and have a drink or two or something to eat. In Guernsey (for Oxfam) I once attended a big Swish gala [one of the more prominent swap organisations], which included a fashion show and dinner! A side bonus of attending swapping events is that I have explored areas of London I never would have otherwise seen.
What are some of your favorites that you’ve picked up from swapping?
Oh, they’re too many to mention! I have gotten items from the very practical like a raincoat to the unusual, like dresses for special occasions. Here’s one unbelievable fact—all my best jeans are from swaps! And there was me thinking you need to pay loads for good jeans . . . ! The variety of jeans is usually quite good at swaps. Most of the clothes I’m wearing in the pictures below were acquired at the Swap Rebellion and SwapaholicsUK events. I feel great in them!