Clothing Swap Bergen organises large-scale swapping events, repair cafes and upcycling workshops. We believe that sustainable fashion is for everyone and help you share and take care of the clothes you already own.
The fashion industry is incredibly harmful to the environment. It uses huge amounts of resources, is polluting in many different ways and is known for subjecting mostly women in the Global South to extremely unfair working conditions.
Brands are producing more and more clothes, while huge landfills are being uncovered every so often. There is an incredible overproduction, with many clothes ending up being dumped or burned within a year after production.
This needs to stop, and countries like Norway have a big responsibility in contributing to change. Regulations alone are not going to do the trick. We, consumers, need to change our relationship to clothing. We can’t just keep buying new stuff just because we can, while it destroys our planet and social structures. There is more than enough clothing on this earth already, and together we can do the right thing. Let’s make swapping the new shopping and fight fast fashion together!
Clothing Swap Bergen consists of a board, a general manager, volunteer coordinator and an ever growing group of volunteers. We’re an international team with people from Turkey, Brasil, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Nepal, the UK, and beyond . We’re registered as an association where our volunteers/members are the organisation’s highest authority in the yearly meeting. We are proud to be a women-led organization.
Inspired by big clothing swaps in the Netherlands, we organized our first event in October 2021. There was an enthusiastic response from the very beginning, which made us decide to continue this important work. We started a non-profit and later got support from Bergen Kommune and Vestland Fylke to further develop the organization. Ever since, we’ve started hosting repair cafes, developed several upcycling workshops, visited youth-clubs with our ‘slow fashion nights’, started a sewing club and have collaborated with numerous organisations in and outside Bergen.
Clothing Swap Bergen believes that sustainable clothing is something that we should all have access to, financially as well as physically. Currently, this is not always the case. New yet sustainably produced clothing by brands labeled as ‘fair’ or ‘ethical’ often come at a higher price, excluding people with low liquidity. National regulations and taxes make it far too challenging to sell second-hand and vintage clothing, which makes this market expensive as well. In an effort to counter these developments of financial exclusion in sustainable fashion, Clothing Swap Bergen aims to keep its prices low. Standard tickets to our events are 100NOK, whereas students and low-income persons only pay 50NOK. If the former price is still too high for someone, they are granted free admission.
To ensure the physical accessibility of our swaps, there is at least one person on the team who is responsible for providing special assistance to those who need it. We are extra aware of physical accessibility with the selection of locations. It is important to CSB to be as accessible as possible and we will actively work to maintain this.
Lastly, in an effort to be inclusive to international and migrant communities of Bergen, we have been careful to provide all necessary information in both English and Norwegian and at the event itself people could speak to our team in either one of these languages depending on their own preference and ability.
One of the most pressing issues in the fashion industry is its waste problem. Nearly 60% of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of production (Fixing Fashion 2019, EPRS 2019). A big part of this is due to the industry destroying clothing, but our culture in which we see clothes as disposable goods, also plays a big role. We take this problem very seriously and are in the position to actively work towards a solution. The swap in itself plays a big role in doing so. Donated clothes often end up in landfills and instead of discarding clothing in that manner, swappers keep their clothes in their own community for others to enjoy. However, each swap has a surplus of clothing and not everything that’s handed in meets the quality we want to guarantee. We have partnered up with several organisations to make informed/targeted local donations. Examples are: KMD students and other artists that work with textile; Hjelperne; and Ukrainian refugees in Bergen. This way, we make sure the clothes stay in Bergen. We have also started a rag weave studio, where we upcycle low quality fabrics.