Let’s Go to the Swap


Lucy with owl, Rachel with maxi pads, Tracy with “more than usual,” Tyler with velvet jumpsuit, and Julia with shoes.Photos: Arianne Cohen

The new trend in clothes-shopping among the city’s more environmentally conscious sorts are clothing swaps, like last Sunday’s Swap-o-rama-rama (that’s not a typo) inside NYU’s Eisner & Lubin Auditorium. (There’s a smaller swap this Sunday afternoon, from 3 to 5 p.m., at 49 Warren Street in Manhattan.) It’s a simple idea: Walk in with a bag full of clothes, pay $10, and walk out with as much as you can carry. This is not vintage shopping in the fashion-y, “curated,” sense; rather, swappers peruse tables piled high with disused crap, hoping for the occasional gem. Polyester and pleats considered too weird to be vintage move on to a new life phase: Sewing machines lined the NYU room, and participants were invited to transform unwearable pieces into dolls, bras into handbags, and sweaters into mittens. We spoke to a few shoppers about their finds.

LUCY MINK, 38, art teacher
What’s that? It’s an owl I made out of a sweater and a T-shirt. What will you do with it? I’m gonna give it to my husband. But I have a feeling my daughter’s gonna try to take it; she’s two and a half. Do you make other animals? Once I made a quintipus out of socks. It’s an octopus with five legs. What’s its name? Quintipus.

RACHEL TRACHTENBURG, 13, drummer in the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
What are you doing? I’m making homemade maxi pads with my mom. Aren’t you too young for this? No. Do you use them? Yes. Why? Because the ones you buy in the store are very wasteful and bad for the environment. And these you can make into a pretty design for yourself. What’s your favorite? Purple stars. I own twelve.

TRACY HOPKINS, 37, music editor
Why did you come here? Because I love swaps. This is the third I’ve been to this month. Why? I just love free stuff. If I can’t use something, I just keep recycling. Wherever I can find a swap, I’ll go. How does this one compare? Most are free. Because this one’s $10, I’m taking more than usual. Which swap is the best? Botanica Bar has higher-end stuff. Are you afraid of cooties? Not at all. You take it home and wash it, and it’s all good.

TYLER COBURN, 23, film director
What’d you donate? I have to admit, I raided the closet of a female friend. Are there a lot of men’s options here? There are two tables for men. But I find that one shouldn’t limit oneself to the men’s tables. What’s your best find? It’s a blue velvet jumpsuit. It’s the most ridiculous and fabulous thing I could’ve hoped to discover. Where will you wear it? Special occasions. Fancy dinners. Red-carpet mingling. If I go to polo matches in the Hamptons this summer, this seems appropriate.

JULIA NEWMAN, 28, photographer
What’d you bring in? Three bags of mostly pants and jeans. I dropped two sizes, and nothing fits anymore. Did you diet? I stopped drinking. Why are you excited about the shoes? I had them for a few years, and they gave me some blisters. I brought these shoes in the fall. Now I see ‘em coming back through. Where’d you get them? A Soho boutique. $60. How do you feel seeing them again? There’s a family feeling. But it’s also a little sad that they didn’t find a home. —Arianne Cohen

Let’s Go to the Swap