Swishing is the clothing and accessories recycling movement that emerged in response to the outfall of a fast-fashion textile industry, coupled with our desire to wear affordable - or free - new things.

Many of us have items lurking in wardrobes, cupboards and drawers that we like, but no longer wear, perhaps because we're too used to them, they no longer fit, or we've changed our style. 

Once-loved coats, outfits, shoes, bags and jewellery needn't linger unloved on a hanger. Rather they can enjoy a new lease of life among friends or colleagues.

What is a 'swishing event'?

A swishing event, or a 'swish', is a fun get together with friends or colleagues, whereby everyone brings items they no longer wear. For each item you bring you can also take an item that someone else has brought away with you if you wish.

Swapped items don't have to be cost or quality equivalent, and anything that is not swapped is donated to your favourite charity shop - hopefully one of our Devon Air Ambulance shops.

Green is the new black

Not only does swishing reduce our dependency on buying 'new' items, but it is a fun occasion whereby people can get together, try on some new things, chat, laugh, and maybe enjoy some music and light refreshments too. Furthermore, they are a great way to tread lightly on the earth by not drawing further on existing resources. 

Swishes are also minimal effort to organise and maximum fun, with most attendees going home with something new (to them) to wear, and plenty of items going to charity shops for others to enjoy too. 

The 'rules'

1) Everyone must bring at least one item of clothing.
2) Decide upon a period of time to browse before the swish opens.
3) No item may be claimed before the swish opens.
4) As soon as the swish is declared open, everyone may take what they want.

Beware! Swishing is very exciting, so there may be scrums.

Swishing hosting tips

The beauty of a swish is that it can be held anywhere. No money needs to change hands, and all you need is an environment in which your guests can relax and browse. These tips will help you host a successful swish at work or at home:

  • Encourage guests to bring hangers on which you can display items to show them off to their full potential. Rummaging through piles of jumble can be fun, but jumble doesn't always display items at their best.
  • Retailers have been getting ambience right for decades, so play a little music and create a relaxed atmosphere. Even the most boring boardroom can be enhanced with a little attention and transformed into an enjoyable (free) shopping experience. 
  • Invite guests to bring a refreshment along. If you have a smaller group you could be a lot more elaborate with your catering, otherwise nibbles are fine and the participatory nature of the activity means you don't have to be the sole caterer.
  • It's no fun going to a swish if you're the only petite or tall person, so invite people of all different shapes, sizes and styles along - and men are not excluded from swishing either! Accessories and jewellery are attractive to different people irrespective of shape or build, so encourage guests to have a sort out of their jewellery and scarf boxes too.
  • Be sure to have enough bags to bag up items to take to one of our shops and arrange for someone to drop these off. If you're a UK tax payer then don't forget to register for Gift Aid at our shops and you could increase the value of your donation to charity at no cost to yourself.

Swishing is really good fun. It's a great opportunity to have a bit of a spring clean, a get together, and to revive your wardrobe with some great new garments and items that might otherwise remain unworn. It's also a great way to ensure charity shops are revived with fresh, quality donations.

If you are planning to donate 'un-swished' items to us, then do tag us in your swishing event photographs - we'd love to see them. Have fun! Find your nearest Devon Air Ambulance charity shop to donate to.