ReFashion Oxford returned to the Town Hall for its third year of sustainable fashion celebration with up-cycling, customising, crafting and swishing.
The event is well organised, with plenty of staff, clear signage and a good use of the space. The main draws for ReFashion are craft stalls and a clothes swapping area, but there are also regular catwalk shows, Q&As and workshops, for example, how to make magazine racks from used textiles. In previous years there has also been a handy bin for bra recycling.
I am a big fan of clothes swapping, also called swishing. It is a creative, cheap and sustainable way of finding new clothes. If you haven't swished before, it works like this: you take a certain number of items to swap, in exchange you get tokens to 'spend' on the other items on the rails. You then get to rummage through other people's clothes and accessories and pick out what to take home for yourself.
You don't know what you'll leave with and because you don't have to spend a penny you end up taking more of a punt on clothes that you wouldn't otherwise consider if they had a £30 price tag on in a shop. If you end up changing your mind after you take clothes home you can always just take them to another swap and keep the cycle going. At the latest ReFashion I picked up a hot pink sports jacket perfect for an upcoming cycling trip, in the past I've found cosy jumpers, stylish pumps and pretty skirts and dresses. Worth noting is that there aren't changing facilities or mirrors set up in the swapping space, which would be a helpful addition.
The catwalk shows included clothes created or up-cycled by local schools, and some with garments sourced from local second-hand and vintage sellers, all worn by volunteer models. There was a mix of amateur enthusiasm and more serious modelling, but the compering by JackFm2 was a little false and lazy - a more passionate speaker would make the catwalks events more attractive to stick around for.
I wish this event would happen on a Saturday - similar events like The Vintage Fair, which regularly comes to the Town Hall, or the Fe-line Women's Frock Swaps (now in The Old Museum space adjacent to the Town Hall every few months) are always popular and successful on weekends. The event could reach a much wider audience were it to happen on a weekend and the organisers deserve a more bustling, energetic atmosphere to complement their efforts.