Back in 2010—long before sustainability was a cultural trend and fashion designers were hailed for their eco-conscious practices—Nicole Robertson was, like so many, simply a woman in love with the creative expression that’s provided through personal style.
“I’m one of those people who really enjoys mixing up what I wear to better reflect my mood or whatever it is that I want to express about myself that day. I just love the art of getting dressed,” says Robertson.
But once Robertson began to understand the unfortunate realities of the fashion industry, she felt inspired to find an alternative to shopping that would help preserve her style, without polluting the planet in the process.
“When I really learned about all of the environmental issues and human rights abuses—specifically, that millions of women and children are living in modern-day slavery and working in these supply chains—I just felt that I didn’t want to be a part of that system,” says Robertson. “I love fashion, but I don’t think that it should be at the cost of the Earth or something that harms other people in the process.”
The apparel industry is one of the largest industrial polluters in the world, and clothing waste is a huge problem—with the average American known to throw away nearly 70 pounds of clothes every year.
Robertson began assessing her own consumption habits—which compelled her to commit to swapping the clothes she already had, and avoiding ever buying new clothing items again.
But she was on the verge of something much bigger than just a personal commitment to be better—and she’d quickly discovered a niche demographic of women looking for a space that would allow them to easily shop pre-worn styles that they could then give a second life.
Her love for sustainable fashion eventually evolved into a full-time job as an entrepreneur, and a first-of-its-kind resale business model, known as Swap Society.
Swap Society is an online clothing swap that makes it easy and affordable to embrace new styles and mix up your wardrobe in a sustainable way. It’s also the only online clothing swap that gives you equal value for your clothes.
Members simply send in the clothes that don’t fit or that aren’t their current style, in exchange for points which can be used toward new, pre-loved clothes of equal value via the site’s ever-changing inventory.
“Aside from clothes swapping being super fun, I have saved a lot of money as a result, and I have also reduced my personal carbon footprint.”
The company’s point system also helps to make sure that users get equal value for the clothes they swap, in an effort to not only save them a fair amount of money, but to also ensure that unwanted clothing isn’t simply disposed of or sent to landfills.
Swap Society uses a proprietary algorithm to assign a fair point value to each garment received. Instead of markups, everything ordered from the site costs points plus a per-item fee of $3.99, depending on membership type.
Swap Society is different from other clothing resale brands in that it accepts all brands in all of its different states—regardless of how used or old it may be. While other companies are more particular in the items they choose to accept or redistribute, Swap Society was built on the belief that wearable clothing should be kept in circulation for as long as possible.
The company—as detailed by Robertson—offers women the opportunity to “consume less, without sacrificing style.”
“More than anything, I want to have our service be a mainstay for people—and particularly, for more women—so that they just get in the habit of thinking about shopping secondhand before shopping for new styles every time there’s a fresh fad or trend,” she says. “Fashion is fun—it really is. But it’s also really damaging in so many ways. I want to change the narrative surrounding resale clothes, and just make sustainable fashion more accessible as a whole.”
For more information, visit www.swapsociety.co.