We are currently living in an era where climate change is an existential threat, when it comes to living a conscious life, buying new clothes from fast fashion brands constantly is not good for our planet. Buying from sustainable brands which take care of the planet and people is a really good option, but it is expensive and not everyone can afford it easily. Therefore, I am a big fan of clothes swapping. It is an economical and sustainable way to bring in something new into your wardrobe. It is a way to keep clothes in circularity for longer and avoid them going into landfills.
For those of you who are unaware of the link between climate change, landfill pollution and fashion, here are some statistics. The fast fashion industry is currently producing a staggering 100 billion items of clothes every year. That is 14 times for every human being on the planet. Most of these clothes are mass produced cheaply and the fast fashion industry is pushing consumers to keep buying more and throw away whatever they get bored of. People are throwing away clothes at an alarming rate and most of these clothes end up in a landfill.
Considering the amount of fossil fuel based fabrics in these items, it is obviously not surprising that these clothes lying in landfills are emitting a huge amount of greenhouse gasses which pollute our air which further accelerates the speed of climate change. These clothes are usually made in the global south by using cheap women labour, the women who make these clothes don’t receive a fair wage and in many cases are caught in an exploitative system where there is no escape for them. In a nutshell, we are killing our planet and stealing the future the next generation deserves by constantly shopping for more and more clothes from fast fashion brands. These brands continue to greenwash in the absence of any proper regulations.
For many of us who want to build a wardrobe consciously, there is a lot of confusion around how to do it. The simplest solution is to obviously shop less and use whatever you own more.
When choosing to buy something new, consider buying from sustainable brands. I have been committed to building a circular wardrobe for the past few years and love visiting vintage and secondhand stores and I am happy to see more options in Bangkok now.
My favourite thrift store is Suankruangoon on Soi Thonglor. Secondhand stores are an awesome way to engage in sustainable shopping, but have you heard about clothes swapping? A clothes swap is a meeting or party where people get together to swap clothing, accessories etc. It is stuff you want to get rid of, someone else can give it a new life and avoid it from going to a landfill. It is the simplest way to keep clothes circular. Clothes swap can save you a lot of money too, I found some amazing clothes at the swap I attended recently for a fraction of the price I would have normally paid for that. I understand that there could be a chance of not finding anything but most of the swap parties usually give you something for the money you spend on the ticket, so it is a win-win situation.
I recently helped Julia Panchkowry who is one of Bangkok’s best female entrepreneurs driving change towards a better future to organise a swap party. She is the owner of ‘The Banana Warrior Cafe’ which is located at EmQuartier, it is a vegan cafe with an interesting selection of desserts, drinks and food. The event was extremely successful which has inspired her to organise more such events in the future. Almost all the women who attended the swap left with a bag full of clothes and it was wonderful to see those clothes get a second life. It is a super sustainable, fun, and creative way to shop for clothes. If you want to attend the next swap event, start by cleaning your wardrobe and picking out the clothes which are in a good condition, but you have no need for it anymore. Put it in a bag and keep it ready. You can drop it at her cafe when the date is decided, buy a ticket for the event which includes 1 free Prosecco and food. Voila!! You are ready to attend a cool clothes swap party where you can drink, dance, swap clothes and enjoy the evening.
As individuals we often feel that we don’t have power to change the system but we can make a significant change collectively as consumers. Most often we confuse trends with style, something trending may not necessarily look stylish on us. Clothes we find in swap events can be styled in creative and fun ways.