The new pilgrimage site of fashion fans, Swapis, the guardian of your conscience
Swappis Refashion aims to promote “slow fashion”, the opposite of popular brands and shops that release new collections every few months and make fashion very hard to keep up with financially, as well as being very damaging on our environment. The main idea of the company, originally started in Sweden, is to collect all our gently loved clothes, give scores for them, which later you can use to buy other clothes from the shop with up to 50% discount.
The shop is currently in Hűvösvölgy; however, there are two other drop off spots in Budapest. It is worth popping in to the store not only to buy carefully selected, cheap clothes but also to admire the beauties of the district from the tram on our way and to look through casual or surprisingly special clothes at the store. We can find designer leather shoes for a few thousand forints, a classic briefcase, or a real fur coat. While looking through the clothes hanging from large hangers, I talked to the inventor and owner of the business, Tünde Fritzson-Bajdor.
How did the business start?
In Sweden, the store was on 370 squaremeters. It started on 70 squaremeters, and the rest of the room was separated. Somtimes, people started to bring big amounts of clothes all of a sudden, and the separated area that I used for storage, was full. Then I asked to remove the separating walls to convert the entire space into a shop area. I started developing the system of scores and evaluation. I had the first experience there about what people think and how conscious they are.
I looked around the international market, and I saw the words “swap” od “exchange” being used most of the times for trading second-hand clohtes. I found “swap” was catchier than “exchange”, which made me think of currency exchange, then I added the Swedish ending -is to make it sound more Swedish, and this is how Swappis was born. I still think about whether the name is good or if I should change it. Today we have a Hungarian name as well, Ruhaforgó, because I thought an explanation would be nice, and this is why we added “refashion” too. Hungarians generally tend not to like foreign names, and I like simple, creative Hungarian names for intiatives and small businesses.
Now I would like to test the webshop again, not necessarily to use it for selling clothes, but because we feel like we are here in this 40 squaremeter shop on the edge of district 2, and people who drop off clothes can’t see what the options are to choose from, and this is unfair. We give them their scores, but if they can’t come here, it has a physical obstacle to access our stock. I thought the webshop would come handy to make the store more accessible. I imagine it as a virtual shopwindow.
What were to most extra clothes that have ever appeared? In an other article I have seen Prada shoes or that purple furcoat on the other side is really extra.
You can never know when anything unusual will appear; sometimes they drop off Armani and Gucci items at the same time, but it can be shoes, too; for example here are these Roberto Cavalli boots, more of a designer piece. It is a matter of time until we reach people who exchange clothes like this. Or look at these shoes (silver, leopard print trainers): a girl got it as a gift, then she realized it was not her style. Someone brought her entire shoe collection because she had had some sort of an accident and couldn’t walk in them anymore, so we received twenty pairs of barely used high-heeled shoes at the same time.
How do you classify clothes if someone brings a bag of them?
Firstly, we go through them and organize them in piles. I will go through them and decide the prices and mark them with colorful strips of textile. Currently we have seven price categories. This one is worth five thousand, so it will get a pink strip. If someone is a member, which means they have already donated clothes before, they can buy it for half, 2500 Forints.
Any member, until they have scores, can buy for half off. It would also be a good idea to try and use the webshop because it would make it easier to see the collection we have as it changes quite fast.
What is the secret of success?
The sense of having only one of something attracts people, they feel like “wow it’s great I found it and at such a good price, too”. Reusing and being conscious also adds to it because it feels better for your conscience.
For example, yesterday, a lady came in, bought a pair of shoes and jewellery for 500 Forints. She said it wuokd look good on the stage, and when I asked what she did, it turned out she plays the cello and she needs something sparkly for the stage, the material doesn’t matter. So many kinds of people turn up here, some are quite well off, in special clothes, and still, when they find something for a thousand Forints, they are as happy as children then. Everyone loves the feeling of hunting, and this is good for us as we will have a bigger collection of different styles as different people bring clothes. You can really find everything: casual, sporty, more conservative-older pieces, and modern ones.
Pictures were taken by the journalist.