The First ‘Swappable’ Secondhand Department Store Is Coming to New York City

This sustainable pop-up doesn’t accept money — customers swap their used garments to make purchases.

New York City’s Walker Hotels has partnered with Global Fashion Exchange to launch the first “swappable” department store, dubbed “SwapAteria.”

The pop-up will run from April 22-30 in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the Brooklyn Style Foundation, the New York Fair Trade Association and Fashion Revolution.

No money is accepted for purchases; store customers receive tokens based on the items they bring to swap — criteria include quality, retail price, and craftsmanship. Tokens are then used to “buy” other garments in the store.

“Our partnership with Walker Hotels is our first hotel partnership and furthers our mission to bring swapping to the masses, offering a unique opportunity to change how we engage with fashion,” GTX founder Patrick Duffy told WWD.

The initiative’s focus is on raising awareness about the fashion industry’s contributions to climate change. Purchasing secondhand clothing is one of the most sustainable ways to keep garments out of landfills. It also decreases the production of new clothing; the fashion industry has one of the biggest carbon footprints.

120 Leading Fashion Brands Pledge to Reduce GHGs 45% By 2030

Fashion’s Footprint

Secondhand and thrift shops aren’t new, but the climate crisis is giving them new life. From trendy boutique retailers like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange to online peer-to-peer secondhand platforms like Depop, ThredUp, and Vestiaire Collective, consumers are making the shift.

Celebrities are getting in on the game, too. Megan Thee Stallion recently sold her “Savage” collection on Depop; Jameela Jamil cleaned out her closet for Vestiaire Collective.

And while sustainability is coming to new fashion in all areas from couture to casual, reducing the number of new items and those going to landfills is critical to slowing the industry’s impact.

New fashion production uses 93 billion cubic meters of water every year — that’s the consumption needs of nearly five million people. Twenty percent of the world’s wastewater is a byproduct of the fashion industry — something designer Ralph Lauren says the brand has figured out a sustainable alternative to.

New fashion also sends the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles’ worth of microfibers into the world’s oceans every year. There are currently no extraction methods for microfibers. They instead spread throughout the food chain.

More than ten percent of all carbon emissions come from the fashion industry; that’s more than the emissions from all international flights and maritime shipping. The United Nations warns that fashion’s emissions will increase more than 50 percent by 2030 without a shift in production and buying habits.

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