Clothes swaps and second-hand sales become trendy in Indian cities

As shopping season begins, help the environment and consider buying pre-loved clothes through sales and swaps, which are slowly gaining popularity

October 24, 2019 06:08 pm | Updated October 28, 2019 06:15 pm IST


Started in 2016 by Nancy Bhasin and Vaybhav Singh with swap parties in Delhi and NCR, This for That, in September 2018 transformed into an app-based platform for women across India to swap fashion and beauty products. So far, 25,000 people have downloaded the app and 4,000 to 5,000 people use it monthly.

Nancy says, “The number of conscious shoppers is very less. The rest want to buy and hoard more. The whole point is to make sustainability palatable. We do so by layering it under a great deal and so you feel like you saved money as well as the environment.”

Stating that there is no restriction on the products that can be put up for swap, she adds, “Women exchange everything from fitness gear and even lingerie. We started getting a lot of uploads for sports bras and expensive branded bras which we used to reject. But we had to change that because we were getting messages saying ‘we already have a swapper, please allow it’. ”

How it works: Sign up on the app via Facebook. All items are uploaded by individual users, slotted under different categories. If you have something to swap, upload a photo of the product and fill in details such as condition, brand, sizing, value and so on. Each product is checked by This for That. Next, hit the swap button and the app will provide suggestions on products that you may like. It is not necessary that you have to swap one item for another. In order to match the value of an item you liked in someone’s closet, you can offer more than one item in return.

This for That app is available on Play Store and the App Store. It offers doorstep pickup and drop-off across India. Shipping charges apply.


In July 2014, four friends had the idea for Exchange Room, a curated eco-friendly wardrobe-swap initiative. The community that started with 10 participants now has 1,670 Instagram followers. According to co-founders Sai Sangeet Paliwal and Prithvi Rao, the last event held on September 29, saw over 1,200 items changing hands with over 100 participants in just four hours.

How it works: Participants are divided into swappers and shoppers. As a swapper, drop off the items you want to give for exchange. Points are allocated for each item based on variables such as fashionability and quality. Purchase the item using your points or use cash if you have run out of points. Exchange Room also holds sales of pre-loved items. For details, check out their Instagram or Facebook page.

GreenStitched, on the other hand, was started in 2015, with the aim of inspiring sustainable fashion. Says founder Dhawal Mane, “We do that through talks, film screenings and so on. The swaps, held under SwapStitched, began in April 2018. Till date, GreenStitched has conducted eight events in Bengaluru and one in Mumbai in partnership with Fair Trunk. So far, 300 people have participated and over 800 items have been swapped,” says Dhawal. Stating that the swaps are organised for all genders, he says, “It’s really nice for us to be inclusive as a community.”

How it works: Entry costs ₹100 per person. Participants can bring up to 10 pieces of clothing to the venue on the day of the swap. Each item is checked to see if it meets quality parameters and only approved pieces it to the swap. For each approved item, you receive a coupon that can be exchanged for another item of your choice. For details, log onto


Chennai is still warming up to the idea, be it through a sale or a swap. The festive season particularly, is synonymous with new clothes. Veena Balakrishnan, co-founder of eco-friendly retail brand Everwards that is pushing this trend in the city, says, “There is a lot more demand for giving than buying. At most 10% of the clothes we get, end up being sold. Often, the effort and cost of checking, ironing and readying the clothes for the sale becomes more than the sales themselves.”

Everwards is pricing the pre-loved clothes at about 10% of MRP, even the ones that still have tags attached. “If people see quality clothes, minimally worn, at low prices, it might act as a bait for them to opt for pre-loved,” she explains. So far, most of their items comprise tops and jewellery, though they are trying to get more saris. Not only because they are free-size, but also because saris are increasingly in demand among the 20-plus crowd, and are appealing even if they are old pieces. Everwards held the fourth edition of its pre-loved clothes sales earlier this month; these usually attract about 150-200 people. “We wanted to help people practise the art of letting go, because most of us buy impulsively, without thinking of the repercussions.”

How it works: For updates on future sales and how to donate, follow the Everwards India Instagram page.


At Hyderabad’s recently started monthly Eco Bazaar, an initiative by Nidarshana Saikia Das and Aruna Nayagam, there is a swap stall set up in every edition. Last month, the stall featured children’s toys and books, while earlier this month it was saris and accessories. “We are thinking of making it menswear next month,” says Nidarshana. What is left behind is given to Goonj, an NGO the bazaar has tied up with. “We don’t want this to be a dumping ground for old clothes. So we put a limit of three that you can bring, and three that you can take back,” she adds. With saris, the concept seems to have really worked, but the team is waiting to see how it would go with more size-specific items like with tops and kurtas.

Eco Bazaar as a whole saw a footfall of 300 in October, while the swap store saw about 50 people coming in to check it out of curiosity. Before this particular swap store came about, city-based NGO Disha Collective had already been trying out clothes swaps of their own at Paaka Cafe, which they share a campus with. Says collective member Tejasvi Satya, “There is no denying that the fashion industry leaves an impact on the environment. Billions of pounds of clothing go into landfills globally, every year.”

How it works: At the next Disha Collective clothes swap (follow their Facebook page for details), pay ₹100 at the entrance. Exchange your clothes for tokens after volunteers have checked them for quality. Go to the exchange floor and pick what you want. The number of tokens you have, equals the number of items you can take.

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