Summer Swishing in SW12

If your idea of hell is 40 women jostling for clothes, first-day-of-the-sale style, then swishing may not be your thing. But if you love the idea of revamping your wardrobe for nothing then you have to join in!

The perfect solution for recession shopping (and it’s very green too), swishing is one import from the US we should all welcome. I went along to a basement room in a Balham restaurant to experience it first-hand at Come Swishing, run by Jo White, a media researcher: ‘I am very much into the idea of community and enjoy doing things that bring people together to have fun, without spending tons of money.’

And it’s possible to pick up some really on-trend items. ‘We tend to get a good mix of budget fashion like H&M and High Street: Coast, French Connection, plus a few top designer items such as the Voyage coat at the last swish.  It really isn’t about the label…it’s about whether or not you like it and would look great in it.’

So how does it work?

Each person brings along five unwanted, clean, stylish items. They pay £5 on the door, then enjoy a drink in the bar while Jo and her team hang the clothes. The fun begins with 25 minutes to browse the rails and try things on. Jo then gives the signal for the first swish and mayhem breaks out as everyone grabs the item they’ve been eyeing up (if more than one person wants the same thing it’s decided by raffle ticket!). Another few swishes follow and, after about an hour, everyone helps themselves, to clear the rails.

One ‘customer’ told me she first experienced swishing in the States, and was keen to try it out here. She brought along a 10-year-old Marni dress and was delighted when someone else fell in love with it.

Jo says that it’s surprising how popular your own cast-offs can be. ‘My friend Julie was worried no-one would want her clothes…but two of her items were so popular they ended up being raffled! And the first thing she selected was a pair of shoes that had been sitting in my wardrobe for two years unworn, which goes to show we should be sharing our clothes much more.’

Would I do it again?

Most of the participants were obviously having a ball and it was a great way to acquire new clothes, although I did find it a bit crowded. Most sizes seemed to be 10 or 12 so, as a generous 14, there wasn’t much there for me. But for cash-strapped South Londoners bored with their wardrobe, it’s a godsend.

Jo works with Balham Bou, a local boutique which brings along discounted clothes and an item to raffle. Come SWishing is held at Harrison’s in Bedford Hill. Contact comeswishing@yahoo.co.uk for details. The next swish is on July 8.

15-19 Bedford Hill
SW12 9EX

What do you think of the concept of SWishing?

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