Ladies Turn Their Back on Fast Fashion at First Clothes Swap Event

Many people are turning their backs on fast fashion offered by the likes of Asos, Primark and looking at sustainable clothing and more ethical ways of buying clothes and accessories.

The Exchange Henley, the first clothes swap event was held at The Three Tuns pub last night (Thursday) and is the idea of Gemma Birchin.  Ladies were invited to bring with them five items of clothing, accessories or jewellery to swap.  They each paid £5 which included a glass of Prosecco and money raised from the event was going to Smartworks Reading to support the fantastic work they do in empowering women back into the work force.

Gemma said, “I signed up for a slow fashion campaign that was supposed to be for 3 months that I saw on Instagram.  Basically, the idea was that you don’t buy anything new – you can buy charity, vintage, borrow or swap.  The whole concept is stop fast fashion.  I was laying there  one night and thought maybe I need to do something about this.  It’s not a new idea, my parents in the 70s who couldn’t afford to buy new clothes used to have a huge clothes swap.  I thought this could work but I didn’t want to do it in a dusty church hall.  I wanted to make it nice evening out but accessible to everyone.  When you remove the money element from something, it makes accessible to everyone.”

The fashion industry contributes around 10% to the overall CO2 emissions (aviation is 2.5%) and so it is a huge polluter.

Gemma also partnered with the Helen & Douglas charity shop in Henley who brought a rail of clothes, jewellery and shoes.  Susanna from Helen & Douglas said, “We like to join in with anything to help any cause going on in Henley and obviously to promote Helen & Douglas.  Reducing the number of new clothes we buy is all about our children’s future.”

Three Tuns offered the venue for free and florist Julia Lynn Floral Design offered to do the flowers for the event which were all sourced from her’s and a neighbour’s garden and few from West End Farm where she volunteers.  Julia said, “I have also used recycled restaurant food jars and tins I sourced locally in keeping with the repurposed/reloved theme for the event.”

Liz Felix also offered free use of her clothes rails and accessory stands from her shop on the Reading Road.

Guest, Eva-Marie said, “I’ve picked up 3 pieces of clothes and 2 pieces of jewellery tonight.  I decided to come as I was clearing out my wardrobe because of my weight loss and my daughter is moving.   Smartworks is a really good cause and I also like to support anything that is going on in Henley.”

Gemma added, “It’s been a really lovely collaboration.  It’s all about sharing information and knowledge and making people just a little bit more aware but at the same time having a glass of Prosecco and having fun.  I’d quite like to do a men’s and homewares event in the future and the ladies one perhaps once a quarter/season.”