365 Days Without Shopping

The rules are simple: - I can only shop in a local supermarket - The rest I'll MAKE, BARTER, FIND, BORROW (or steal... just kidding :)

swap till you drop... till you drop..... till you drop


So it’s been a few months since I’ve cleared out my closets. These few months have been filled with new (long lost, at the back of my wardrobe) clothes. But after some time even my long lost friends don’t seem as exciting anymore.


But what's a girl with a shopping ban to do?
… Steal, beg or swap!. And needless to say, I've chosen the latter… (for now… a few more weeks of the shopping ban and I might result to begging or stealing).

And swapping I did! I was invited to check out a swapping party held at “The Novel” in Nieuw-West, Amsterdam. These clothes swapping parties are held every 3 months, but the shop is open for customers 5 days a week for a few hours. The Novel swap shop is part of the Bookstore project. The Bookstore is a project in the Kolenkitbuurt, Amsterdam-West, initiated by The New Collagists and the housing association Stadgenoot. More than a dozen artists from six countries have been given the opportunity of living in the neighborhood for affordable rent. In return for this, they are expected to make a contribution to the development of the area. Some of them volunteer at “the bookstore”.

The rules of the event are simple, all you have to do is bring a minimum of 5 items (clothes, shoes or bags) in good condition. This part is similar to the other swapping parties. What sets the “The Novel” apart is this: you don’t have to choose the exact amount of items to replace yours. You can take as much or as little as you want. The clothes that are left behind after the swapping events will stay at the store. I really love this concept as it also allows people with fewer means to find wonderful clothing. The store is open for a few hours 5 days a week, so it, in essence can be treated as a “clothes library”. Swapping clothes, instead of disposing of them can be more in line with our desire to see items recycled and reused. We are a generation more and more concerned about the world we live in, eager to reduce our carbon footprint where we can. We are more conscious of the effects we have on the environment, but these are often ideals that conflict with today’s disposable and ever-changing fashion trends. Whilst we are used to recycling glass, cans, paper, and plastic, clothes are often thrown out without a second thought about the environmental impact this has, with only a small percentage of used clothes even reaching charities. Ensuring clothes enjoy a longer life is one small way of reducing the environmental impact of the clothing industry.


When I came to the last swapping event, I had quite low hopes for the outcome. I have a very specific taste in clothes and didn’t plan on taking something for the sake of “swapping”. I was fully prepared to leave all the items I brought behind. What I wasn’t prepared for is what happened next.

I was greeted at the door by "The Novel" coordinator, Olga Ganzha. She was so lovely and welcoming that I felt like I’ve known her forever. After a brief chat I’ve handed her the bag of clothes that I’ve brought and went to browse around the store. After my initial round I was a bit disappointed with the findings so I’ve decided to settle for a cup of tea and to soak up the store’s atmosphere. The swapping was in full swing. What really surprised me is that there was no rivalry you often see during sale time in the shops. The comradery was overwhelming, complete strangers where recommending clothes to each other and complementing on good “looks”. More and more girls where arriving for a swap and suddenly I saw more clothes that I liked. After understanding what kind of clothes I was looking for, Olga started to personally recommend me some items she though I might like. She was spot on and I came home with waaaaay more clothes than I thought I would. This is what I got:


The next swapping event is this coming Sunday, November 30th, from 14:00 till 17:00, Ernest Staesstraat 7. All you need to do is to contribute 2 Euros for tea and cookies. I’ll definitely be there!