Emily De Groot founded The Clothes Club in January 2013. Here Emily takes us back to when it all began and talks about the motivation behind the organisation.
Take us back – where did the idea come from and how did you get started?
I have two older sisters and a younger brother and my mum was always very frugile. She’d cook amazing dinners from leftovers like chicken fricesse, after a roast, which is still a favourite. My eldest sister was 4.5 years older and we went to the same school. I’d wear her school shirts after her and at the time didn’t appreciate second hand clothing so much.
It was next reignited when I started working at Play, M&C Saatchi’s digital start up. There was a group of us who would bring clothes into work and do swaps.
A few years on and I wanted to fundraise for causes I cared about. I’d do Race for Life or Marie Curie swimathon but wanted to do a fundraising event in my own time, rather than on a certain date. So I organised the first Clothes Club event for Hackney Pirates and we raised an incredible £1,000. This helped cover some costs and we gave them £600. So that was the start in April 2013.
Did you find it difficult to get people to dig into their wardrobes and find items they wanted to swap for your first event?
We had 50 people at our first event, maybe more. It was such a great night! I had a lot of clothes I’d been saving up for it which I donated. And people bought some great items, like a fake fur coat and Chloe top. We were really impressed with what people bought and also the atmosphere.
What has been the best item / items you’ve seen at a clothes swap?
It’s tricky as I’m normally rushing around so don’t get to see the items as much as The Clothes Club team organising the items. Someone bought a Vivenne Westwood shirt, which a regular Clothes Club attendee Danii got.
Do you have many clothes left over after the events, if so – what happens to them?
Yes we often do as people bring several items. We have a partnership with TRAID, they take the leftover items so nothing goes to landfill. So far from 6 events we’ve had +750 items go to new homes.
What has been your favourite item that you have personally swapped?
A Whistles playsuit which I’ve worn loads (thanks Eve). I always make sure I donate items in return.
Final one – what is your favourite second hand item?
My favourite item has to be stuff my Mum’s given me, like her Aussie Clark dress. It’s gorgeous. And the black clutch she gave me too which I’ve worn to a wedding.
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