City Buzz: Clothes swap job at Sheffield Common Thread

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They say that fashion always comes back round, and with that – and an ethical ethos – in mind, a city-based organisation is encouraging people to share their pre-loved clothes.

Common Thread was founded in Sheffield in 2010 by Jessica Dawson, who invited friends and neighbours round to her house for informal clothes swap parties.

Eight years later, there are monthly clothes exchanges at Union Street Cafe, city centre.

There are no paid members of staff at Common Thread, there are around 80 volunteers involved who give up their time because they are passionate about ethically-produced clothing and sustainable fashion.

Volunteer Rachel Boyce said: “We aim to educate participants about the benefits of slow fashion, and the negative environmental and social impact of fast fashion.

“We also want to try and change perceptions of wearing second-hand clothing, and gently persuade people to invest in ethical, ecological and well-tailored clothes.”

At each clothes exchange, attendees are each asked to bring a bag of clothing – and then they will be able to go home with another.

I think this is a fabulous idea. We all have items in our wardrobe that we do not wear, whether that is because it no longer fits or because we have changed our style, but these events provide a chance for them to be loved again.

Rachel said: “You expect the clothes you go home with to be in good condition, so therefore the clothes you bring should be in the same condition. You can bring men’s, women’s or children’s clothes, all shapes and sizes.”

The events are so popular, that many people go back each and every month.

Rachel said: “You get a lot of familiar faces at the clothes swap, and we like to describe it as borrowing from a community library of clothes.

“We see so many amazing interactions where people see each other people in their former clothes, and they are so happy that their old clothes have got a new lease of life.”

There are always clothes left at the end of each event, but every item is given a new home. Some are taken home by volunteers, others are saved for the next event, and some are given to charity.

Rachel added: “One of our regular volunteer’s mum was visiting from Italy and really wanted to donate. She didn’t speak much English but with some translation and hand signals we worked well.

“One of the items one of our co-ordinators took home was one she donated. It was a really nice link and made the item even more special.”

To find out more, visit www.sheffieldcommonthread.wordpress.com. If you would like to volunteer at a Common Thread event, please email commonthreadsheffield@gmail.com. The next Clothing Exchange will be held tomorrow between 1pm and 4pm. Entry costs £4. A repair station will also be available.