When I had to move house yet again, I decided to let go of some of the pieces I no longer wear. While they weren’t good enough to sell on eBay (I tried and failed, and who wants the hassle?), I didn’t want to donate them anonymously to a charity shop where I’d lose the connection to my long-loved clothes.
The solution came in form of a clothes swap. I didn’t want any new clothes in return for my pre-loved treasures. I just wanted to be part of their journey into a new home. I got a kick out of seeing my friends and family try on pieces that meant so much to me, pieces that carried me through life and seeing their eyes light up as they themselves fell in love with my much-loved clothes.
I could sense that this experience was something special, something to hold on to, something big.
Little did I know that only a few month later I decided to train as a personal stylist, start my own consulting business, and watch The True Cost movie – which combined with the joy I experienced hosting my first clothes swap (but without the swap), motivated me to start the WALK IN WARDROBE™. The WALK IN WARDROBE™ is a pop-up clothes swap with a difference: There are no tokens, no redeemable vouchers and no rejections. You just have to try on first – If it fit’s you it’s yours!
What can you expect when you join us for our bi-annual event?
1) You will be greeted with a warm welcome!
My team and I have deliberately decided to keep the WALK IN WARDROBE™ intimate, with a maximum of 30 guests. We want you to feel at home, as if the room was an extension to your own house, your very own walk in wardrobe where everything is already yours.
I try to remember everyone’s names on the day, and aim to check in with you personally to know what you are looking for and to introduce you to others if you came by yourself. I found that many who might arrive as strangers at the start, leave the event as friends by the end.
2) The necessary evil – registrations 😉
My team will check that you have a valid ticket for the event – all we usually need is your name to match it to our attendee list. You might have seen the “FREE” option on Eventbrite to be added to our mailing list, but that is not a ticket!
Your ticket fee funds the event and allows us to make it an enjoyable afternoon for you. Given the cost for venues, rented mini-vans, equipment, catering and the time of my team, I don’t make a profit from the WALK IN WARDROBE™ but I hope it will reduce textile pollution and raise awareness for alternatives to Fast Fashion as we know it.
At registration, my team will also accept any clothes you may have brought along to share with the other attendees.
This is not compulsory, all you need is a valid ticket for the event.
But if you are like me and would like to see the sparkle in someone else’s eyes when they try on your clothes, this is the perfect opportunity to let go of pieces that just don’t work for you anymore.
We’ll be happy to accept women’s clothing that is clean and in immaculate condition except for shoes, hosiery, tights and lounge wear. Scarves and accessories are usually our most popular items 🙂
You are welcome to leave your coat and bags with my team behind reception to avoid them getting mixed up in the clothes exchange (we once had to chase a pair of sandals down to the station to get them back and another time my blazer was mistakenly taken home by a guest, I got it back though!). While we’ll do all we can to keep your belongings safe, you’ll leave them with us at your own risk and we aren’t able to take responsibility if anything is lost or stolen.
3) Panel discussion and Q&A
After registration, we ask you to take a seat for a panel discussion with sustainable fashion experts. These will vary from event to event and you can find more detailed information on our event page.
While I’m having a chat with our panellists and take your questions, my team is busy sorting through the clothes you have brought on the day. They take quality control very seriously – but please let us know if you find any flaws in a garment that they didn’t notice.
4) Aaaaaand…the floor is yours!
You might be itching in your seat by now, excited to browse our collection of pre-loved clothes. But before I can let you all loose, I will remind you of my one request:
TRY ON FIRST – If it fits, it’s yours.
I really don’t mind how many pieces of clothing will find a new home in your wardrobe – the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. But what I want to avoid is that they a) end up catching dust in your wardrobe without being worn or b) are picked up with your daughter, aunty or neighbour in mind who isn’t attending the event.
So please, please, please try everything on that catches your eye to ensure you will actually wear it! Our venues have at least two changing rooms with mirrors in each of them. I encourage you to ask for feedback from the others if you are unsure about an item, and I will also be on hand to assist with general pointers. However, if you are looking for in-depth style advice I suggest we book a one-to-one.
The room will be set up like a shop floor with rails of clothes hanging on hangers – I just can’t stand the idea of a rummage sale! I’d love to say it’s fancy boutique style, but in all fairness that’d mean that we’d have to steam each item before you get there, which is logistically impossible for a two hour event. So while the clothes are clean, some even new with tags on, they might look a little creased due to transport and storage restrictions.
As I believe that sizing is misleading, the clothes are not arranged by size, but by colour. If you had your colours done in a one-to-one consultation and know your colour profile, you can focus on the rails that best reflect your natural features.
Just try on something you like and don’t get discouraged by the random (!) number in the label claiming to indicate the size – you might be surprised how often sizing is just wrong (I wear clothes ranging from size 8 to 14). While I can’t influence what has or will be donated, we are proud to say that we generally end up with a wide variety of sizes.
The clothes on display have come from a variety of places, so you’ll be sure to find something that’s different at the WALK IN WARDROBE™. Throughout the event my team and I try to keep the display nice and neat and continue to add donations, so it’s worth looking through the selection a second or third time.
5) Beyond the clothes: Nom noms and other perks
No matter how hard we might try to find something that you like and that will fit you beautifully, I have to be realistic and accept the odds: there is a small chance you’ll leave the WALK IN WARDROBE™ empty handed.
While I’d hate for that to happen, I don’t want you to feel short changed. To provide additional value to the event beyond the clothes, I’ve added in the expert panel discussion, as well as delicious finger food, cake and cava. Ideally, you’ll see the WALK IN WARDROBE™ as a fun sociable afternoon to meet new and old friends. If you go home with new-to-you clothes then that’s a bonus.
6) The extended family
Sometimes we’ll introduce you to brands at the WALK IN WARDROBE™ that share our values of sustainability, fairness and transparency. They might display their collection in a separate area to the WALK IN WARDROBE™ to make it very clear that their items are not part of the clothes exchange, or they might sponsor some element of the event in exchange for exposure.
The decision to welcome one or two carefully selected exhibitors to our event wasn’t taken lightly, which is why I have set some rules. The conditions are that you are not sold to, but that their pieces are available for sale should you be interested.
Realistically, you can’t find everything second hand, so my mission is to introduce you to viable alternatives to the fast fashion available on the high street. This is about giving incredible small independent brands an opportunity to introduce themselves to you, share their story and how they are trying to make a difference. What you do with that information is entirely up to you 🙂
7) It’s a wrap
When the WALK IN WARDROBE™ comes to an end, we are always proud to see all the empty hangers of clothes that have now found a new home. We’ll encourage you to bring your own canvas bags for carrying your fashion finds to reduce waste, but in case you forget, we have recycled and biodegradable carrier bags on hand.
My team and I ensure that all clothes are on the right rail for their colour profile and then it’s time to pack everything up for the next event! Believe it or not, the entire shop floor is stored in my office/living room/bedroom space neatly piled up in Ikea bags behind a curtain wall – you wouldn’t even know it was there.