Volunteers launch clothes swap delivery service to give Sheffield people their fashion fix in a safe and sustainable way

A group of young women have taken upon themselves to help style the people of Sheffield in a sustainable and safe way.

Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 12:53 pm
Common Thread Sheffield volunteers

Eleanor Holmshaw, Amy Palmer, Jade, Natalie and Jess have helped to launch the Common Thread clothes swap delivery service to help people get their new fashion fix, while helping the environment and staying safe in their own homes.

Those who are familiar with Common Thread will know that the volunteer-led organisation promotes ethical fashion, usually through a series of clothing exchange events throughout the year. At these events people would be asked to bring a number of good quality clothing items to swap with others.

As we all know, events such as these have had to be cancelled for the forseeable future due to the pandemic, but for these girls that meant it was time to get creative.

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Eleanor said: “The exchange itself is a fairly simple process. We launch on Facebook and participants use our form to tell us about themselves, what they need, what size they are and if they have swaps to return to us. We only have capacity for 10 parcels a month at the moment, so you’ve got to be speedy.

“Swappers are also asked to donate £4 to cover our costs, such as storage and petrol for delivery, and more if they can spare some cash to support us.

“Eleanor then becomes the personal shopper for the swappers, spending time digging through our stock to match their preferences. Finally, Jess drives the parcels out, collects any swaps to come back to HQ and the swappers are asked for some feedback. All this happens in stages and we have COVID guidelines in place every step of the way.”

It sounds like an amazing task – after all, who hasn’t dreamed of being a personal stylist? – but also a very nerve-wracking one. Style is such an individual thing, and sometimes it can be hard enough just finding something you like for yourself, but Eleanor said she loves a challenge.

Clothes from Common Thread Sheffield

“A great phrase we’ve heard throughout the swaps we’ve done so far is how much people have enjoyed having somebody else choose clothes for them.

“I had a challenge from one of our swappers who asked me to ‘push her out of her comfort zone’, which felt like an important task, and an honour to do. We’ve also had swappers receive something they’re not quite sure about, but then transform it into something else – and that kind of creativity is what we’re all about.”

Each person who signs up to the swap gets about 20 items in return. This is mainly decided by what is available in a person’s size and what would suit the preferences they have given.

Amy said: “It doesn’t matter how many items people have donated themselves, we want to encourage ‘slow fashion’ – so for people to be generating less clothing to donate isn’t a bad thing in our eyes.

If you’d like to take part in an exchange yourself, a wide range of items are accepted including men’s, women’s and children’s clothes, shoes, handbags, ties and nightwear. All donations must be washed and in good condition. The next swap will be announced at www.facebook.com/CommonThreadSheffield.