Friday, February 11, 2011

Second hand goes Top Drawer: Goodwill makes a Swap and Shop fashion splash!

I'm generally a thrifting loner. I take an afternoon of thrifting at my own pace, plug in the ipod and browse. My thrift store excursions are usually a low-key, solitary process.

Coming from that insular place, I had no idea there were so many cool people who shared my passion until last night, when I and four friends headed to the Goodwill Clothing Swap and Fashion Show!

My friend Anne pre-purchased the tickets, which were a mere $10 a pop. And in order to get the Swap ball rolling, everyone who attended was asked to bring 10 fashion items. The ticket price included hors d'oeuvres, guest star Mondo Guerra of Project Runway fame, and a fashion show complete with catwalk. Then, it would be Shop Time!

I couldn't have picked a better group of cool people to go to this event with - so full of energy, enthusiasm, and a complete buy-in when it comes to thrifting. Here we are, just before we left for our Swappy Shoppy event!

Who could have guessed what we found when we arrived? Hoards of people were streaming into the venue, each clutching a bag of swappables. We learned when we signed in that the event was completely sold out, and there was a long line of people who wanted to join in, but the room was full-to-bursting.

Imagine! Surrounded by those of my ken. Hundreds of interesting, receptive people who appreciate the magic of fashion on the cheap as much as I do!

There were tables packed with swag. There were drawings for fabulous giveaways. There were cool people everywhere, each of whom busted the myth that thrifting is the ugly retail stepchild. The recycling, the giving back, the creativity took precedence over the outworn idea that buying items second-hand must mean you're poor.

This crowd got it. Buying second-hand is savvy, on so many levels.

I chatted for a while with Lori, who gave me some great tips on below-the-radar thrifting in Boulder.  Our conversation led me to ask Lori why she thought thrifting was becoming more acceptable - even chic - if last night was any barometer.

Lori suggested that people are becoming more keenly focused on second-hand shopping not only because of the economy, but because it's just smart. Thrifting goes easy on the environment. It generates creativity. It compels folks to reexamine the whole concept of want vs need.

Lori and I had a nice chat.

And we chatted while nibbling on an A-list selection of tasty goodness. What a spread! The food was fabulous, the desserts were stellar. Barb, one of the fabulous members of our caravan of origin, was unapologetic when she announced that she was trying one of everything.

The tempo of the evening ramped up an octave when it was announced that Mondo Guerra was in the house.

Mondo was locally grown here in Denver, but after a memorable season on Project Runway, he's become quite the fashionista. And if last night was any indication, he has quite a following. The line for photos and autographs was serpentine.

I did stand in line, for what seemed like ever. Just as I got within spitting distance (although I would never do such a thing), those of us who remained were told we were denied our Mondo moment. The show, as they say, must go on.

And the next part of the show was all about the fashion. Mondo judged the designs of several local women who'd created unique, very haute and cool fashions, and each had their catwalk moment. The winner was a sassy yet demure 15-year-old who definitely deserved to win. She has some fashion chops, and last night she received a whole lot of validation.

While the crowd of thrift-lovers had been eating, chatting, snagging swag in big orange bags, marveling at Mondo, and taking in the fashion show, the Goodwill folks had been setting up a bit of a Swap Store from the items we'd all provided.

It was time to trade up!

Barb and Lynda had wound their way to the Swap Portal. They were primed to get the good merch.

And the Shop portion of the evening didn't disappoint.

We all found some really great stuff. We left with items we'll undoubtedly use more than we'd use the items we'd brought.

Best of all, it sounds like we may keep this swap idea going.

Kits were distributed outlining how to create a swap akin to last night's event. The kit is great, but the idea is simple with or without instructions.

Anne, Barb, Melissa, Lynda and I resolved to have a swap gathering. Maybe more than one. Sans Mondo, most likely.

How easy! How fun! Nothing to lose, everything to gain!

Last night was so great, on so many levels. Channel 7 and Goodwill definitely proved that they know how to throw a party. Judging from the crowd, it's obvious there's a huge interest in the creativity and good intention that comes from sharing. Essentially, that's what thrifting is.

And I was shown that I'm not as alone in this second-hand game as I thought.

It's good to know we're everywhere.

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