Thursday, November 19, 2009

Swap ‘Til You Drop in Amsterdam

Clothes swapping events have spread like wild fire across the United States and are all the rage in London; Amsterdam is the latest city to catch the clothes swapping fever. If you like the idea of refreshing your wardrobe in a party atmosphere in a manner that is good for the environment, good for your pocket and helps a local charity, then the “Swap and the City” event is just for you.

From private clothes swapping parties to major events in international capital cities and the growth of specialised internet sites, the trend to swap clothes instead of throwing them out has grown in popularity. Of course, internet sites such as eBay have been prime places to sell unwanted clothes for some time now, but swapping events add a more personal element to getting rid of unused garments.

Swapping clothes, instead of disposing of them, is also more in line with our desire to see items recycled and reused. We are a generation more and more concerned about the world we live in, eager to reduce our carbon footprint where we can. We are more conscious of the effects we have on the environment, but these are often ideals that conflict with today’s disposable and ever-changing fashion trends. Whilst we are used to recycling glass, cans, paper, and plastic, clothes are often thrown out without a second thought about the environmental impact this has, with only a small percentage of used clothes even reaching charities. Ensuring clothes enjoy a longer life is one small way of reducing the environmental impact of the clothing industry.

“The idea of a clothing swap isn't a new one, however, I wanted to create a fun afternoon out for women in the Amsterdam area, around the theme of fashion, beauty and charity. I am passionate about the idea of green fashion: clothing nowadays has become disposable, but with “Swap and the City” perfectly good quality clothing finds a new home rather than gathering dust at the back of a closet or being dumped in a landfill,” explains Colleen Geske, who is co-organising the event with Tamara Raab.

The design of the Swap and the City event in Amsterdam to be held on 29 November is simple. In every woman’s wardrobe there is a long forgotten dress; an abandoned skirt confined to the depths of the clothes cupboard that looked great on the rack but which never quite made the grade back home; or boots that seemed perfect in the shop but which crushed your feet if you actually walked in them - each participant brings a minimum of five such items to the party, and leaves with as many items as they like. Shoes, clothes, jewellery and purses are all swappable as long as they are in great condition.

However, it is not just about swapping clothes; fun, beauty and socialising are also on the agenda.

News of this first event has been greeted enthusiastically, and a follow up for early next year is already in the planning. Colleen reveals that there is also interest to hold similar events in other Dutch cities in the future, including The Hague and Utrecht.“Women can expect a fabulous afternoon of fashion, drinks, delicious snacks and socializing. The first 2 hours of the event, guests will have a chance to enjoy drinks (cointreaupolitans), snacks and visit the stands of our beauty specialists who will be offering complimentary treatments like massages, mini-facials, threading, makeup and manicures. All guests will go home with a fabulous goodies bag full of great treats thanks to our very generous sponsors. We also have lots of excellent prizes, which will be given away throughout the afternoon,” Colleen explains.

At the end of the afternoon, clothes without a home will be donated to a local charity, namely the Blijf Groep, which is a Women’s Shelter supporting victims of domestic violence in Amsterdam and the surrounding region. The donation of clothing is particularly welcome as many women arrive at the shelter in emergency situations with only the clothes they are wearing.

The Cultuurhuis Diamantslijperij in Tolstraat 129 (the Pijp) will be the venue for the first event. For advance ticket purchases and more information, visit or follow news as it happens on Twitter at Note that only a limited number of tickets will be available on the door on the day.

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