The Purge and Swap event at the Hi-Dive Bar in Denver on Saturday showcased three of my guilty pleasures; clothing, music and alcohol. Amazingly, these indulgences were justified by the charitable and eco-minded undercurrents of the occasion. Open to the female public, guests were urged to purge their closets of unwanted clothing and accessories and haul them down to the popular music venue for a swap. All of the leftover items were then donated a few doors down at the Goodwill.
Inspired by similar gatherings in San Francisco, organizer Sam Sutton wondered why clothing swaps weren’t happening in her neighborhood and decided to do something about it, thus the Purge and Swap came to be. Under the watchful eye of a thong-clad Artist Formerly Known As Prince poster, women scavenged for treasures among the piles of clothing that lined the bar, pool table, stage and chairs of the venue. Wardrobes were refreshed and duds recycled while guests sipped cocktails to an eclectic mix of musical wonderfulness. Prada, Steve Madden and Banana Republic were just a few of the numerous designer labels mingling amongst vintage gems of various shapes and sizes, all free and all for the taking.
Two hours after entering the swap in jeans and a button-up, I emerged wearing a mod cape jacket over a Donna Reed style silk dress, a friend donned several layers of new-to-her apparel while another boasted a classically tacky “T&A Patrol” cut-off tee. Whether you are after business apparel or a strapless velour jumpsuit (like the one I deftly plucked from the exquisite selection), clothing swaps have something for everyone.
Events like the Purge and Swap are catching on across the country as a unique way to re-vamp wardrobes in an affordable and sustainable manner. Although this particular function only catered to females, clothing swaps can include fashions for men, children and babies as well. If you can’t find a swap near you, organize one! While the Hi-Dive was kind enough to donate their space and open their bar for us, transforming the Purge and Swap into a hip mixer-type bash, all you really need to host a clothing swap is an area for guests to layout their garments and some willing participants. If mingling isn’t your bag or you live out in the sticks or simply want a wider selection of items to choose from, Dig N’ Swap, an internet-based swap previously covered by greenUpgrader, may be just your style.
photos courtesy of Alissa Wilson Williams