SWOP Clothing Exchange has spent 12 months in its new location ¬ a light-filled space full to the brim with vintage, retro and quality modern threads, nestled up the secret stairs of 161 Boundary Street.

SWOP offers shoppers affordable fashion at a sustainable price. You might pay more than at your local Salvos, but in return, SWOP offers a curated selection of quality items. “It is basically a high-range op shop for people looking for good quality garments ¬ vintage and modern,” clarifies Brigid.

On Fridays, the SWOP clothing exchange booth is open for business, offering 25 per cent of the sale price up-front or a 50 per cent store credit for your preloved clothing. Bethany and Brigid fell in love with the clothing exchange business model when traveling through America. “It was a very sensible working structure for a retail space,” Brigid explains.

The owners have found an untapped source of quality clothing, only selecting items that will offer shoppers years of mileage. “We can be so wasteful with fashion ¬ there are so many quality garments, but people keep them in their wardrobes, donate them to charity, or forget about them completely,” says Brigid. “This is a platform for someone else to love those clothes again.”

SWOP does not simply follow the trends, but favours garments that have longevity. “We don’t take any fast fashion; no Valley Girl, Supre or anything that is very momentary because number one, it is going to fall apart if you wear it too many times, and number two, it will only last one or two seasons before it is outdated,” states Brigid.

Bethany and Brigid actively follow the trends of the past, but make them relevant for the modern shopper. “You can pick out vintage pieces that fit today’s 70s trends, but instead of buying a recreation, we can bring you the authentic piece that’s already lasted 40 years,” says Brigid. “Everything is so generic these days, but here you can find anything. You might find a Navajo jacket, or a Gucci loafer; it’s cool to consider what could potentially be hidden here.”

While Bethany and Brigid agree that for many busy shoppers, sustainability is “a nice afterthought”, they are adamant about providing an accessible way to shop responsibly. “We present the shop in a way that gets people excited about second hand and vintage clothing, especially for people who do not usually buy second hand,” says Bethany. “We hope people consider that what they bought has not just gone to landfill.”

“Buying quality” is Bethany and Brigid’s take home message. Spending extra on pieces that will last longer and transcend fast fashion trends will not only save you money in the long term, but will importantly minimise your impact on the environment. “Clothing waste is the second biggest waste in the world ¬ it is important to be educated about fast fashion and to consider what it costs,” says Brigid. “You can rest easy that by coming here every couple of weeks to shop or swop, you are doing your part ¬ it might be small, but it still makes a positive difference.”