Clothing Swaps Combating Fast Fashion in PGH

June 1, 2018


A great act of environmentalism is truly thriving here in Pittsburgh, enhancing the fashion community, one Clothing Swap at a time. The act isn’t necessarily a new concept, but the benefits and positive change has very recently begun to flourish here in America. An act of an era that hasn’t been around since before consumerism and all the jazz of westernism, when the original peoples of this land swapped stuff for stuff all the time.


ANYWAY - Some sources say Clothing Swaps that are ran by organizations, held in a variety of sizes, that raise money for charitable donations originated in San Francisco in the late nineties. That means that sure - the 90s are back - but considering the age of the earth, this concept is very nuance!

Here’s how it works according to some local Clothing Swap Hosts Rhea Calhoun and Ciara Teliski. Rhea explains how,


“You bring old clothes, shoes and accessories that you don’t want anymore. They must be in good condition — no rips (unless intentional), stains, frays, broken zippers, etc. They must also be brought washed and cleaned, with no body odor. This ensures the swap has an atmosphere of a shopping experience in a store. Typically, you can take as many items as you bring; however, this is flexible depending on how many people come and how much clothing is brought.”


With some swaps, the magic stops here but, Ciara explains how their Swap goes further to help out the community.


“All work clothes that are in good condition left from the swap get donated to Dress For Success, a local nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged women get back into the workforce by providing work clothing to individuals at no cost. All other clothes left were donated to WIlkinsburg Free Store. Their mission is to redistribute used goods at no cost to community members to help in hard times of financial hardships or family emergencies. Also, all monetary donations were donated to Level Up Dance studios’ children's summer camp -- we are extremely grateful for Level Up letting us use their space.”


To learn more, please visit: Wilkinsburg Free Store's mission is to redistribute new, lightly used goods at no cost to community members to bridge times of financial stress and emergency.


This is an exciting time for both thrifty consumers and those looking to clean up what they no longer use. Thrifters are even saving here - besides the donation to charity at the door, the clothes you bring home are completely free. On another level, if you’re sick of all the closet clutter, trying to become more minimalistic, or just regularly cleaning out your closet, this is a perfect way to do so with guaranteed reward. In other words - bring your fresh ass clothes for other fresh ass people, to truly cherish and adore! Rhea exclaims,


“​I love seeing ​one man's trash becoming another man's treasure.​ I love the way a woman's face will light up when she finds something cute that looks good on her and makes her feel good about herself.​ The women become excited seeing other women find the clothes they didn't want and wanting to take them. It's a great feeling seeing your stuff go to a good home-- and for free!!!”


This money saving, reuse, recycling, & clutter detoxifying act goes further into environmentalism by creating combat for Fast Fashion. According to Investopedia, Fast Fashion’s goal is to quickly produce an item that is both cost-efficient and responds to fast-shifting consumer demands. The assumption is that consumers want a high-fashion styled article of clothing at a low price. Sure, sounds reasonable, but because of Fast Fashion, many harmful environmental  issues are becoming larger and more intense. According to Eco Watch, cotton and cotton based products are some of the thirstiest crops in existence, creating a never ending water overuse issue.

This article also goes into how many harmful chemicals are in these cost efficient articles of clothing that not only put you at risk, but are very dangerous for the workers in harsh conditions making next to nothing to produce this clothing. A fast fashion garment has a short product life cycle, meaning that these factory workers in economically disadvantaged situations are working to create a product that is considered disposable. A garment that will soon find its way to a landfill where it becomes blamed for pollution… (for real check out the article)


Clothing Swaps are here to help stop this harmful fashion cycle. According to Rhea, the reason her and Ciara keep the event going is “​Because it is fun, combats fast fashion, creates positive experiences between women in the community, and you get to clean out all your unwanted stuff!”

Look out for their next Swap in September so you can environmentally revamp your wardrobe in perfect timing for fall.


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