The Court Circular speaks to Carrie Kleeb Iddins, founder of Molesey Clothing Exchange,
about staging a sustainable fashion intervention.
Words | Orin Carlin
Exactly how many times a month do you stand in front of your wardrobe, bedroom floor adorned with mountains of rejected outfits, lamenting the fact that you have absolutely nothing to wear? For me, this ritual is a daily occurrence. I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house in the morning without brushing my teeth, spritzing on some perfume, and having a small fashion meltdown.
Similarly stuck in a style rut? Have no fear, Carrie Kleeb Iddins, creator of Molesey Clothing Exchange, is here. Her new initiative is dedicated to allowing locals to swap, not shop.
Carrie has always adored fashion and has fond memories of experimenting with her look in her early years. “I love all the decades!” she says. “I spent my teenage years in thrift shops, always trying to copy my older sister’s style. Growing up, my relationship with fashion went hand in hand with music.”
These days, Carrie describes her personal style as “a bit of this and that”. It’s an eclectic mix of different looks, based on exactly what she likes. Preferring not to pigeonhole her fashion choices into one rigid category, Carrie is inspired by what she sees, but careful to utilise the pieces that she already owns. “When I see a look I like, I head to the charity shops or have a good old dig in my wardrobe. I love when you see something in a magazine and it inspires you to have a look at what you’ve already got and maybe just wear it a different way or tweak it a bit to make it look fresh,” she explains.
Upcycling, recycling and swapping is a passion for Carrie and the idea behind Molesey’s Clothing Exchange first came about when she read an article highlighting the benefits of second-hand shopping and swapping. After some online research, she fell in love with the idea of a community-focused clothing swap and decided to create one in her local area.
The concept is really simple, as Carrie shares. “Have a look in your wardrobe for that dress you bought and only wore once, or the top that still has the tags on, or maybe it’s a piece you just haven’t worn in ages. Make sure they’re clean and in good condition, something you’d be prepared to
pay for at a charity shop.”
Then you head to the bi-monthly clothing exchange and start your swapping session. “Our limit at the moment is five pieces,” Carrie explains. “Those could be clothes, shoes or accessories. We have a £2 entrance fee which helps us to cover costs and then donate to a local charity, which is currently the Molesey Churches Night Shelter. If you bring five items in, you’ll get five tickets, three items, three tickets, etc. We’ll check your clothes, give you your tickets and off you go to ‘shop’. If you don’t use all of your tickets, you can save them for the next exchange or donate them to someone. It’s really fun!”
One of the great things about Molesey Clothing Exchange, is that swapping, rather than buying outright, provides a great opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone. After all, how many times have you shied away from spending more on a bolder item, in favour buying it in a more practical colour?
“What I really like about it is that you can try things that maybe you wouldn’t normally go for, creating a new style for yourself,” Carrie tells me. “That’s one of things we love about the exchange. If you pick up something you’re not sure about, you can always bring it back and swap it at the next event.”
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding wearing second hand, is that the clothes are dated and poor quality, and for Carrie, debunking this myth is long overdue.
“We’ve had some brilliant pieces come through the exchange!” she gushes. “I picked up these amazing striped quilted waistcoats at the last one. They’ve got this gorgeous gold thread running through them.”
“We even did a Festive Frocks swap leading up to Christmas just focusing on festive wear, jewellery and Christmas jumpers. I got this amazing 70s light blue floaty dress that looks like I should be on top of the Christmas tree!”
Divine intervention aside, Molesey Clothing Exchange may well be the next best thing for your wardrobe, as well as your wallet. With bills skyrocketing, giving fashion-lovers an alternative way to pursue their passions and connect with likeminded people is a fantastic addition to our local community.
Carrie has plenty of ideas for the future of Molesey Clothing Exchange, including a rail for teens, a guest sustainable stylist and would love to stage summer festival-themed swapping event, with the help of her trusty team. “I couldn’t do this on my own,” she says. “This is much more than swapping clothes; it really is about community and connection.”
Five good reasons to swap:
2. Environmentally friendly.
3. Slows down ‘fast fashion’.
4. For fun!
5. Cuts wardrobe clutter.
For more information, visit Molesey Clothing Exchange on Facebook, or @moleseyclothingexchange on Instagram