How to Plan a Safe Community Clothing Swap

What is a Clothing SWAP?
A clothing swap is a type of swapmeet where folks exchange their valued but no longer used , clothing for clothing they will use. Clothing swaps are considered not only a good way to refill one's wardrobe, but also are considered an act of environmentalism. The items that are not swapped are donated to an organization or second hand clothing store

Why a Clothing SWAP?
Fort Negrita uplifts clothing swaps because:

  • Fast fashion cripples local textile industries, particularly in West African communities.
  • People creating new clothes are typically working in unsuitable environments and for less than livable wages
  • There's an abundance of clothes on the planet, let's see what's around before purchasing new. 

STEP BY STEP on How to Host a Clothing SWAP


  • Set SWAP Goals
  • Pick a date, time and location
  • Decide on the logistical elements of your event. Will you have:
    • Refreshments or food vendors
    • Will there be music
    • Will you have a dressing room 
    • Will you have bathrooms
    • Will there be fun activities like, 
    • Will there be a community bulletin board where you post other earth friendly events, community activist events, etc 
    • Will people only be able to pre-give items to the Swap or can they bring items on the day of
    • Will there be a fee to attend if you do not make a clothing offering
    • Decide Where will the remaining items that are not swapped will go. Fort Negrita  recommends identifying an organization like a women's center, church, community organization that would like the items to give to their constituents. Be clear on what they do and do not want early on. Whatever is unwanted by the org send to GoodWill as a second choice.


  • Secure a venue
  • Secure other logistical elements that you have decided on in pre-planning
  • Advertise your event
    • Create a flyer and get a crew to assist you in promoting the event
  • Gather clothing items for the event and have them drop them off to you
    • Let folks know a min and max items they can bring to you for the swap
    • Remind folks to wash items before dropping to you
    • Ensure folks know when and where to drop items
    • Remind folks of your safety protocol when they are dropping off items. If you require they wear a mask to bing you items, if you want to make it a no contact drop, say so, etc…
  • Gather all other supplies (see our supply list)
  • Create a blueprint of the clothing swap layout. Where clothesline, garment racks, bins, seating, etc will go. This will become your setup guide.  Ensure to give more space between things than normal as to be as COVID safe as possible
  • Have a plan for what to do with what's left at the end
  • Decide if you will document,create a #hashtag and use #bearthdayfest21 
  • Create necessary signage to denote what is what
  • Label bins and boxes with what will be in them  
  • Identify who will be on your team
    • Must have team members
      • Greeters: provides attendees with essential information
      • Merchandisers: Folks who keep the space tidy and helps people find things
      • Host: this person is managing the entire event, making sure all things are in place and goes smoothly. This person has all the answers
      • SetUp Crew
      • Clean Up Crew
      • * all people are responsible for ongoing wipe down of things that are touched by many people. This will reduce the possibility of COVID living on surfaces and being transmitted from surfaces
    • Advertise

Set Up

  • A team is helpful for setting up and running the swap, but BC of COVID try a less is more approach with the amount of help you have.
  • Ensure  your setup team arrives early early to help with set up.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time prior to the start of the swap to ensure set up isn't rushed. BC of COVID, ensure there are sanitation stations which include sanitizer, extra mask, cleaning sprays, etc….
  • Use the blueprint from the planning to show your team how things will be set up. Feel free to adjust as you see fit
  • Unload and put things into place, a few curating tips
    • Arrange clothes by material. For example having  clothing rack with all denim items
    • Create outfits and put on display
    • Create capsules like a 50’s look capsule
    • Create a vanity scene for jewelry items
    • Set up could look like the store you have always wanted to shop in or it could look like anything you want. Be creative and make it easy for yourself
  • Make sure your signage is clear, understandable and place accordingly
  • Make sure the event is welcoming, that it has a vibe and is a place you would want to be and feel safe at

Event Begins, everyone SWAPs

  • Doors open and guest being arriving 
  • Music is playing
  • Signs are inplace
  • Refreshments or food vendors are in place
  • Team is in place 
  • Have fun
  • Document, take pics, get testimonies, etc..
  • Go live on IG

It’s Closing Time

  • Pack up a collection of items to be used to start your next clothing swap
  • Pack up and organize  all items to be donated
  • Tidy up and clean accordingly. Ensuring you leave the space better than you found it

Staying Community Safe During COVID  while hosting a Clothing SWAP

  • Take temps at entrance 
  • Offer a spray of hand sanitizer upon people entering 
  • Have safety signage up 
  • Set up sanitation stations that include sanitizer, extra mask, cleaning spray, fabric disinfectants, wet wipes
  • Make sanitizer available throughout the event
  • Mask up
  • Social Distance (avoid giving hugs and or touching unnecessarily with people not in your pods or without consent)
  • Have signage that reminds folks that the items may not be cleaned and should be treated with safety until new owners can take them home to clean.

Finding A Venue
Clothing Swaps can happen anywhere. A living room in someone's home, a church, a park, literally anywhere. As you know Fort Negrita traditionally host one in the middle of a field during b(earth) Day Fest.

Swaps are traditionally social gatherings with a vibe, maybe music and food too. In the days of a Pandemic you can still include these elements if you want, you just need to take more care if doing so.  

The Fort recommends having Swaps outside with a lot of space. This can include:

  • A big front yard 
  • A block in your neighborhood with low traffic that you can close off to traffic
  • Large parking lot at the school, church or rec center
  • A community garden or public farm
  • A park

* If you are hosting in a public space you may need to get permission to use said public space. 

Things to consider having onsite to ensure a successful swap:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning spray
  • Disinfectant spray for fabrics
  • Masks 
  • Clothes hangers
  • Garment racks 
  • Clothes line
  • Tables and tablecloths (think culturally appropriate fabrics, bright colors, fun prints)
  • Signage
  • Mirror(s)
  • Cardboard boxes 
  • Bins of all sizes
  • Vending tent(s)
  • Makeshift dressing room 
  • Music or other audio
  • Speakers 
  • Area for refreshments/food vendors 
  • A container, box or something to put items
  • Sharpies, tape, rope, pens, pencils, first aid kit



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