2008 October 30

The fashion sector has changed unbelievably in the past ten years: the discount fashion sector has experienced a boom, and major supermarket chains have picked up a large share of the clothing market. But this year, low consumer confidence has affected sales across the board. Increasing competition between the discount, supermarket, and designer clothing sectors, all fighting for the same consumers has become intense. Friends of the Earth say that sales of new clothing in the UK have increased by 60% in the last ten years, largely due to the rise in budget high street stores. But that could be about to change.

So what have de-toxing, pre-loving and swishing got to do with it? Such concepts encourage shoppers to think both before and after they buy. They are systems where people get together and swap unwanted items and create new outfits that they model before the rest of the group, getting suggestions on accessories or other items being swished that would work well together. Supports say it makes you creative, developing your personal sense of style. So how does it work?

Let’s say you have a wardrobe full of T-shirts and want to get a new look but don’t have much money. Gather up a bunch of friends and the clothes they no longer want or never wore and swap – your plain white tee shirt could end up under a long evening jacket, or a collared top you never really felt comfortable in could look fantastic on your best friend or your mum. These systems of clothes swapping allow you to take budget items and make a dozen new looks: a black T-shirt with a floral skirt, a pair of boots and hat that turn a long-sleeved top into a fashion hit or even a bit of cross-dressing, going through your man’s wardrobe and seeing which of his tees you can mix and match with your own clothing.

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