After testing the waters at pop-up clothing swaps last year, the University of Connecticut is now home to the UConn Swap Shop, a sustainable way to add to your closet. Located in the Family Studies building, the store had its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 8, giving students the opportunity to donate clothes or trade for something they spot on the racks.
The concept was first thought of by sixth-semester marketing major Madeline Kizer, who applied to UConn’s IDEA grant to create a permanent space for the initiative.
In the past, Kizer has held swap events through her personal brand, Kizer’s Kollection. Kizer has also created short videos in which she’s interviewed students around campus, asking them questions like where they shopped, how they felt about clothing swaps and whether they could name a sustainable brand.
Aiming to combat fast fashion and its effects on human rights and the environment, Kizer found clothing swaps to be an effective, yet fun method. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all.
But the UConn Swap Shop shows that retired clothing does not have to be considered trash in the first place; on the other end of shopping secondhand is donating.
Eventually working alongside fellow co-founders Efua Koomson and Lyla Andrick, the idea blossomed and the group applied to UConn’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants program as well.
Receiving funding from both grants and approval from Interim President Radenka Maric, they moved forward to purchase supplies and sewing machines for the space.
In addition to hosting clothing swaps, UConn Swap Shop will be hosting sewing and upcycling classes. One will be hosted at the end of September, the other in mid-October.
Students who partake in classes will watch a set of instructional videos about sewing basics and machinery; no experience is needed to attend a basics session, although advanced pattern-making workshops will require greater familiarity with sewing.
Kizer and Andrick, along with Rebekah Wesler, the project’s inventory operations manager, will supervise the store until student interns can take on the task themselves.
“This is a business for the students, by the students. So those who are working in the store will not only be working but all have specific roles in this business to keep it operating,” Co-founder Kizer said in an email.
At the moment, the UConn Swap Shop is only open to donations and swaps, but it is looking to expand in the future, so students will be able to purchase clothes as well.
When asked what some of her favorite secondhand items were, Kizer said, “I have no idea, I thrift everything!”
One piece Kizer scored was a set of vintage glass side tables for $50. The set retails for about sixty times the cost, illustrating that sustainable purchases can be made inside and outside the realm of fashion.
Featured photo courtesy of unsplash.com