Her Campus and the Sustainability Steering Committee hosted a clothing swap in the Sarazen Student Union on Sunday April 7, 2019, in support of a more environmentally conscious fashion industry. Students were encouraged to bring clean, gently-used clothes to the event, where they could browse through the donations and take donated clothes, as well as enjoy free snacks and raffle prizes. Any clothing not swapped during the event was later donated.
In past years, Siena has hosted a number of pop-up thrift shops and second-hand clothing sales, but this year’s clothing swap, the first of its kind, was popular among Siena students. Her Campus worked tirelessly to promote the swap by posting on social media and putting up flyers around campus. The previous week, they hosted fashion blogger Hoda Katebi, who spoke on the intersections of fashion, identity and politics, as well as how to shop ethically. Staff writers of Her Campus also wrote a series of sustainability-themed articles for the week preceding the swap, which can be read online at hercampus.com/school/siena.
I spoke with Emma Burkard ’19, editor-in-chief of Siena’s Her Campus chapter. Burkard holds both personal and career interests in the fashion industry, as she runs a fashion-centric blog at emmaburkard.com and aspires to work as an editor for a fashion magazine. I asked Burkard about the inspirations for the swap. “One of Her Campus’ writers, Khizra Awan, is very passionate about sustainable fashion,” Burkard said. “She pitched the idea to have the clothing swap and have the speaker we just hosted last week, Hoda Katebi, who talked about buying clothing ethically. Khizra has gone to clothing swaps in the past and thought it would be a fun and educational event for Her Campus to hold.”
Burkard also commented on the benefits of thrifting clothes rather than buying from retail chains. “Thrifting, swapping and reusing clothes is a great way to make ethical fashion choices for yourself and the environment,” she said. “Often, ‘fast fashion’ brands and retail stores that so many of us shop from are exploiting overseas workers to produce the clothing and severely underpaying them for their labor.”
Fast fashion – the quick, cheap production of trendy, fresh-off-the-runway looks – is both ethically and environmentally damaging. Some solutions to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint include practicing sustainability through recycling and donating clothes. “Fast fashion is also horrible for the environment both in the way it is produced and because so much of the clothing goes to waste,” Burkard explained. “Donating and thrifting clothing helps us minimize waste and also avoid buying from fast fashion brands. Buying clothing that is made locally is also another great way to shop ethically and support your local economy.”
This year’s clothing swap was sponsored by Her Campus and the Sustainability Steering Committee. If you are interested in learning more about either of these organizations, check out Her Campus’ Instagram at @hercampussiena or their website at hercampus.com/school/siena. You can learn more about the Sustainability club by visiting their Instagram at @scsustainability.