A trip to New York inspired Bethany Wicks and Brigid Gordon, two high-school friends with a shared passion for vintage fashion and recycled clothing, to open a clothes exchange in Australia.
“We travelled through America and Europe together in 2008 with a few friends,” the pair explains. “Visiting Williamsburg in New York was a game changer. Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange were our biggest inspirations.”
In 2013, the pair opened SWOP Clothing Exchange, a store selling sustainably sourced vintage and preloved gear, in their hometown of Brisbane. An Adelaide store followed in 2014.
This year Wicks moved to Sydney to open and manage the new store, on Enmore Road. Opening in Newtown was a no-brainer, they say. “We wanted to be near all the excitement. Newtown reflects our style. It’s vibrant, colourful and fun.”
The store features concrete floors, tunes, a few plants and a whole lot of clothes, including a nine-metre wall of dresses. “We let the clothes do the talking.”
So how does the exchange work?
They buy and resell clothing and accessories from within their local community. The exchange booth is open every Friday where customers can sell or “SWOP” their clothes for cash or in-store credit.
Each item is assessed and priced by trained buyers. “Our price point is extremely affordable. The average price in store is between $20 and $50.” What you won’t find on the SWOP racks are any fast fashion items. A list of brands that SWOP does and doesn’t accept is published on the website.
Brisbane fashion lovers were quick to throw their support behind the project. “Our customers are our buyers and without them we wouldn’t have stock to fill the racks. We have some serious SWOP fans out there that contribute to our amazing collection each week.”
SWOP Clothing Exchange 112 Enmore Road, Newtown
Hours: Mon–Fri 11am–7pm Sat and Sun 10am–4pm