Aug 30, 2023 - News

A way to sustainably shop in Indy

So many good finds. Photo: Lindsey Erdody/Axios

Hey, it's Lindsey, with a fun, sustainable suggestion for how to refresh your closet without breaking the bank.

Driving the news: Organized clothing swaps are spreading across the country as free ways to update wardrobes and minimize waste, and a new group dedicated to the trend has been hosting events around Indy all year.

The big picture: The secondhand market is projected to reach $70 billion by 2027 — up from $39 billion in 2022 — and is growing nine times faster than the wider retail clothing sector, according to a report from the retail analytics firm GlobalData and the online thrift store ThredUp.

Zoom in: Hannah Searcey, who says she's always been passionate about sustainable fashion, started Indy Swaps after learning about a clothing swap in Austin.

  • "I was like, 'Oh my gosh this is so cool! I wish there was something like this around here,'" she said.
  • She told a couple of friends about her idea, posted about it on TikTok and word spread rapidly. About 60-70 people came to the first event in January at Helm Coffee in Garfield Park.

How it works: Attendees bring up to 10 items of clothing and drop off their items to volunteers, who quickly sort the goods by style and size.

  • Shoppers search through items as volunteers constantly replenish tables and racks with more pieces.
  • The rule is you can take as many items as you bring.

The intrigue: Any clothes leftover are donated to nonprofits.

  • So far, Indy Swaps has given to organizations including The Julian Center, Exodus Refugee Immigration and Westminster Neighborhood Services.
  • "We always try to make sure we're working with a nonprofit that's going to utilize [the clothes] in the best way possible," Searcey said.

State of play: Indy Swaps has had five events — all in partnership with local businesses to use their space — and the latest swap in July attracted the biggest turnout yet with more than 100 people.

My experience: I was among the crowd at the July swap in Broad Ripple. I donated seven clothing items, and I left with seven items.

  • I loved the no-risk, high-reward feeling as I shopped. If I liked an item and thought it would fit, I tossed it in my bag.
  • The skirt, shorts and dress I walked away with sadly did not fit (unfortunately, no dressing rooms!), but I passed the dress along to my sister. Meanwhile, three tops and a pair of athletic pants are new additions to my closet.

What's next: Searcey said she's considering doing specialized events for specific groups, such as a plus-sized swap.

  • Details for upcoming swaps will be posted on the organization's Instagram.

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