A clothing swap in Toronto
Women mingling at a clothing swap.

A clothing swap or CLOSWAP is a type of swapmeet wherein participants exchange their valued but no longer used clothing for clothing they will use. Clothing swaps are considered not only a good way to refill one's wardrobe, but also are considered an act of environmentalism.[1] It is also used to get rid of and obtain specialist clothing. Participants have numerous motivations but also face barriers during swaps. These events are becoming more and more popular for numerous reasons.

A CLOSWAP is an event in which people gather [and invite friends] to exchange used clothing in order to promote sustainable consumption. By borrowing and lending, one can acquire additional clothing without incurring additional costs.[2]


The notion of swapping is not a new concept. The word swap implies and means there is no money involved in the process.[3] Clothing swaps occur formally, such as an exclusive women's event or informally exchanging clothes with a sibling.[4] Who a swap occurs with is essentially up to the swappers. The process has two main features. The first is the process of obtaining clothes then, the swap being facilitated. These occur in person as well as via the Internet; clothing swaps have adapted as society continually changes.[5] In order to have a successful swap it is often important to have donation guidelines and swap rules.[6]

Clothing swaps originated in 1994 in San Francisco with events hosted by Suzanne Agasi of ClothingSwap.com. She has personally hosted over 310 events promoting green glamour, sharing and enhancing and refreshing your wardrobe with others.[7] Throughout the period of clothing swaps, participants tend to be women.[3] Many participants see this as a wonderful opportunity to shop second hand.[6]


Swap participants chose to engage in swaps for a multitude of reasons. The three overarching motives can be categorized as environmental, economic, and social. Clothing swaps allow for clothes that would be discarded into the trash to recycle into someone else's closet.[3] Out of concern for the environment, many swappers use this approach to addressing textile environmental impacts.[5] Fashion is one of the globe's leading waste contributors and swaps are encouraged in order to reduce this waste.[1] From an economic perspective, swappers can obtain new clothing articles without having to spend money. It makes sense to save money but receive new articles of clothing at the same time.[4] Socially, swappers can connect with other people passionate about swapping as well as experience extroverted settings.[3]


Some factors limit participation in clothing swaps- social outlooks and quality concerns.[4] When obtaining second-hand clothing, certain members of society see this as a new social label. They believe that their social status depends on whether their closets are full of first vs. second-hand clothing.[4] Second-hand clothing can be interpreted by others as a lack of wealth. To address this there are designer quality swaps. Quality concerns also arise during swaps. Swap participants want to ensure clothing items are of good quality and have not deteriorated from prior use.[4] When shopping second hand the clothes are used and some members of society do not want to swap their belongings for an item of worse quality. To address this issue swap hosts can check the quality of items contributed to a swap.

One of the main issues of clothing swaps is the availability in the local area. They tend to be quite expensive and complicated to organise with a lot of visitors and variety of clothes. Therefore, the digitalisation of these swaps have been discussed among many organisers in the industry.

The digital era of CLOSWAPs

In the modern era, many businesses have tried to adopt the notion of swapping online through apps on phones or websites. Notably, a swapping marketplace called CLOSWAP has recently developed an online marketplace which allows swappers to swap anytime, anywhere and with anyone. CLOSWAP efficiently matches potential swappers with each other to give them the option to meet up and safely swap their unworn items.

See also


  1. ^ a b "How Clothing Swaps Could Help Save the World". One Green Planet. March 24, 2014.
  2. ^ Lewis, Tania; Potter, Emily (2013-01-11). Ethical Consumption: A Critical Introduction. Routledge. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-135-28239-4.
  3. ^ a b c d Matthews, Delisia; Hodges, Nancy Nelson (September 2016). "Clothing Swaps: An Exploration of Consumer Clothing Exchange Behaviors". Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. 45 (1): 91–103. doi:10.1111/fcsr.12182. ISSN 1077-727X.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lang, Chunmin; Zhang, Ruirui (2019-04-01). "Second-hand clothing acquisition: The motivations and barriers to clothing swaps for Chinese consumers". Sustainable Production and Consumption. 18: 156–164. doi:10.1016/j.spc.2019.02.002. ISSN 2352-5509. S2CID 169496689.
  5. ^ a b Long, Mary (2015). "The Clothing Swap: Social, Sustainable, and Sacred". Archived from the original on 2022-01-22. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Lim-Chua Wee, Alexandra (August 15, 2018). "How to Host a Clothing Swap". Martha Stewart. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  7. ^ Tuttle, Brad. "Q&A with Clothing Swap Founder Suzanne Agasi" – via business.time.com.