Frugal fashion: Clothing swaps take off in Germany

Among fashionistas, expensive shopping sprees are so last season. An increasingly popular way to freshen up a wardrobe without breaking the bank is to find a clothes-exchange event like Swap in the City.

Frugal fashion: Clothing swaps take off in Germany
Photo: Swap in the City

The concept is simple: fashion-conscious women who have some perfectly good Prada blouses or Jil Sander skirts in the closet they don’t wear anymore can take the garments to a swap meet. There, they can go on a hunt for others’ cast-off treasures and come home with a spruced-up wardrobe, without having to pack for the poorhouse.

Last year, the clothes-exchange event Swap in the City premiered in Germany, getting rave reviews and leaving hundreds of women a little more chic. Due to the success, organizers are kicking off a 2011 tour. The first of these sartorial smorgasbords connecting closets around the nation is scheduled for April 10 in Hamburg’s Hühnerposten event venue.

Besides being packed with top-quality, second-hand clothes, the swap meet will feature a wide array of beauty products and wellness treatments that visitors can sample.

“From vintage trousers to designer blouses, women can find everything they need here to kick off a more fashionable spring,” said Harel Shalev, managing director of event organizer Mister Paz LTD.

“Whether they’re interested in hunting for that perfect garment or just getting spoiled by our beauty professionals, Swap in the City is the place to be.”

The 700 tickets available for the last swap event in September sold out quickly, so organizers have planned a series of dates for 2011. They are bringing new sponsors on board, showcasing a new palette of beauty products and offering a prize draw for ticket holders.

After the 2011 kick-off in Hamburg, Swap in the City will be held in Munich in May, Düsseldorf in June, Stuttgart in July, Berlin in August, Frankfurt in September and Cologne in October. The swap year will culminate with a surprise Christmas-themed event in November.

Tickets cost €15 and can be purchased online. The first 100 early birds can get their tickets for a discounted priced of €10. At the swap meet, visitors will be greeted with a free SKYY Vodka cocktail, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and other drinks and snacks.

Click here to see photos of Swap in the City.

At the heart of the event, of course, are the thousands of garments on metres and metres of racks and tables, all carefully hung or folded so that the hunt for the perfect ensemble is all the more enjoyable.

In the Beauty Lounge, women can pamper themselves with a new hairstyle, a luxurious manicure or any of the many free treatments available by professionals.

Like last year, visitors can put their names in for a special drawing. The grand-prize winner this time around will be heading to the Caribbean for a luxury cruise. Other prizes include a wellness weekend in a Marriott Hotel and jewelry by Konplott.

Sponsors for the 2011 event series include Freundin magazine, L’Oreal Professional, Mod’s Hair, Great Lengths, SKYY Vodka, Weleda, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Marriott Hotels, Fossil and others. Like in 2010, organizers expect media interest to be high.

Clothes swapping, or “swishing” as it is sometimes called in England, is a lot easier than, say, walking down a cobblestone street in Manolo Blahniks. Participants bring to the event from three to ten articles of clothing that they want to exchange. Swap experts at the door will look at the clothes and give out “swap credits” that can be exchanged for other garments.

Only women’s fashions are accepted, such as trousers, skirts, dresses, blouses, tops, jackets or shoes. The articles must be clean and in good condition and it should be easy to determine the brand and size.

Besides being a highly entertaining event, Swap in the City has its socially responsible side. All the garments still on the floor after the doors close will be donated to charity.

“Those who jazz up their wardrobe at Swap in the City not only have a great time, but they also save money, support donations to a good cause and, through recycling, do a little bit to help the environment,” Managing Director Shalev said.