Contrary to popular misconceptions, SWOPSHOP is not a dating website where you can upcycle your boyfriend. It is, in fact, the place to go to for unlocking the equity in our wardrobes and trading the skeletons in our closets. Simply, take in your old clothes, swap them for someone else's old clothes, pay a small fee, and walk away with a bargain!
We are all going crazy for swap shops at the moment. The experience isn't like charity shopping with it's constant rumbling and shuffling to unearth vintage chic. Nor is it like fighting over faux labels with the well heeled patrons of the by now ubiquitous sample sales. The experience is a lot more relaxed, the purchases more measured and although pre worn, the clothes range from high street to designer.
Business is booming at the Crow Street SWOPSHOP. Owner Adèle Geoghegan has has seen the importance of labels diminish and the idea of classic dressing return, since opening SWOPSHOP.
So, how does it work? A recent visit with a rather sceptical Independent Woman editor saw us take a bag of her once loved items to see exactly what we could get in return. Armed with print blouses, a striped Clockhouse dress and casual tops by everyone from Mango to Diesel, the first and most important part of swopshopping is working out what your clothes are worth in the first place, with Adèle.
In her tiny arcade store rammed to the rafters with clothes, Adèle sorts through the items we bring and assigns a value to each item. Once the clothes have been checked (they must be undamaged, clean and pressed), we are told that we can swap for similar value items in the 'high street' and 'designer' categories.
In a room full of treasures it's hard to choose, but on the other hand a beady eye can always spot a bargain. There are Prada Jackets, LBD's galore, Camel coats by FCUK and plenty of vintage dresses, and that's before we even move onto the shoes, handbags and accessories. Although space is tight, our finds are measured, discussed, tried, tested and placed in a pile between maybes and must-haves. Some shoppers float in, some float out, some swop and some will come back. The people here know clothes.
The real charm of swap shopping is that there's a knack to it and it's a learning curve on getting the most out of our wardobe. Purchases shouldn't be rushed nor designer items traded in haste. As the SWOPSHOP matriarch, Adèle's help comes as something of a relief and aside from a keen eye for sizing and an absolute knowledge of her stock, advice is given in a way that cools our foraging instincts and after two hours of exhausting the options available, myself and my editor leave with a haul including a Peter O'Brien skirt, a warehouse LBD, a Topshop top, and a gorgeous cream summer dress. We are delighted with our haul (see photos for the items we got).
The only money we have had to pay is in the form of the commission on our swaps, so there are no guilty credit card receipts and the final bill for our endevours is €37 which is the cheapest spree I can remember.
A tiny shop in Temple Bar might not be New York's Garment District or Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive, but as we slowly divorce ourselves from our love of binge buying and impulse shopping, we are delighted to discover we have room for a discreet designer fling.
Where is it: SWOPSHOP is situated in the Crow Street Bazaar, Crow Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 1. Visit swopshop.ie or call 01-6578702 for details.
Most shops have a few rules with regards to the conditions of items they will accept. It is best to check individually, but here are a few pointers:
Items brought in must be laundered, pressed and undamaged - no questions.
Designer labels tend to be worth more and thus increase your swapping power - raid that wardrobe for unworn treasures.
Buyer beware: just because it's swapping doesn't mean you should be frivolous. You have paid good money for your items, so make sure you get something great in return. Always check for tiny rips, broken zips, fraying seams and hidden stains.
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