Before you toss out those tired trousers or that shrunken sweater, stop.
For a few bucks, plus a bag of ill-fitting, unwanted clothes, you can turn your fashion trash into treasure at the county’s first-ever Swap-O-Rama-Rama.
Aimed at encouraging creativity, empowering local artists and keeping clothing out of the landfill, Saturday’s event will feature a community clothing swap as well as do-it-yourself workshops, a raffle and a fashion show.
“The whole idea is to encourage people to become creators rather than consumers,” organizer Jennifer Alexander explained. She co-founded Upcycle SLO, an earth-friendly arts-and-crafts collective, with local educator Sara McGrath in November.
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Alexander sought inspiration from the book “Generation Change: 150 Ways We Can Change Ourselves, Our Community and Our World,” co-written by San Luis Obispo native Jayan Kalathil. He and fellow author Melissa Bolton-Klinger share tips ranging from composting to blogging to social activism.
Alexander was especially drawn to Suggestion No. 135, “Reuse and Restyle Your Clothing.” An avid seamstress and thrift-store shopper, she makes scarves out of old T-shirts and turns sweater sleeves into leg warmers.
So when Alexander read about Swap-O-Rama-Rama, started by New Yorker Wendy Tremayne in 2005, she decided to stage a swap in San Luis Obispo.
“Ever since, I’ve questioned my sanity,” she joked.
On Saturday, participants can learn how to screenprint tops, fashion funky button earrings or transform pillowcases into purses. There will be demonstrations on knitting, crocheting, spinning and hat making, and swappers can cart away as many clothes as they can carry.
The event concludes with a fashion show featuring participants’ crafty creations. It’s sponsored by San Luis Obispo resale shop Curio.
Alexander said she’s been overwhelmed by the support she’s received in the form of sewing machines, supplies and raffle items. Participating businesses include Beverly’s Fabrics & Crafts, The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay, and Naturally Jennifer’s Beads and Gallery in San Luis Obispo.
In addition, about 20 local artists are donating their time and talent.
“I knew it was going to be a big deal,” Alexander said. “(But) I didn’t know it was going to be as positive and as empowering as it has been.”
Proceeds go to Upcycle SLO and the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County.
Alexander hopes to make Swap-O-Rama-Rama an annual event. She views do-it-yourself fashion as a powerful statement about the clothing industry and the environment.
“Fashion definitely gives us a voice,” she said. “If we’re being more picky about what we consume, we’re going to make a statement.”
1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
Laguna Middle School, 11050 Los Osos Valley Rd., SLO
$5, $10 at the door
Bring a bag of clean, unwanted clothes, any size.
Suggested items include shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, lingerie and shoes.