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We Swapped Pre-Loved Clothes For Quality Pieces At The Fashion Pulpit

We break down the process and what to expect at the store, based on our own swapping experience

Buying used clothes, accessories and shoes is becoming less and less of a taboo these days, and it's about time. Not only is buying used a great way to save some money, it is also an excellent way of caring for our environment. You are essentially doing all the three Rs all at once! Besides the more obvious reusing of resources, by choosing used over new, you also reduce the need to draw on new textile resources, and you extend the life cycle of a garment before it ends up in a landfill.

Combine buying used with the giving away of your own pre-loved clothes to be reused, and you are making your personal wardrobe exponentially more sustainable! Lucky for us, a one-stop shop to fulfill both sides of the sustainable fashion equation was recently launched in 2018. Located in Liang Court, The Fashion Pulpit is a physical and permanent store where visitors can bring in a bunch of their pre-loved items and get points for them to swap for other pre-loved clothes available. And it's not just clothes (which in itself already ranges from casual tees to workwear to wedding gowns) - there are also shelves of accessories, bags, scarves and shoes.

If you think the store is going to be a packed little place with messy piles of clothing all over each other, think again. The vibrant and spacious interior (decked out in loads of used furnishings too) of The Fashion Pulpit is as charming as an independent boutique.

We can bet you have at least one piece of clothing right now that you no longer want or can wear. What should you do with it? Many Singaporeans would throw it out, indeed doing so for an average of 27 clothes a year, according to a CNA survey in 2016. Such startling practices prompted Raye Padit to start several sustainable fashion initiatives even before he founded The Fashion Pulpit. "The main objective of The Fashion Pulpit is to make swapping the first alternative to shopping," Raye says. "I really feel that it's not only beneficial for the planet, it’s also beneficial for everyone. It saves money and provides more options as an extension of their wardrobe."

After hearing good things about The Fashion Pulpit from friends, we decided to give it a try. The process, especially the points calculation, is something best understood when experienced first-hand. So, here's a step-by-step guide to clothes swapping at The Fashion Pulpit, as we have personally experienced it, and why we definitely recommend everyone to try it too.

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2. Select used clothes that would get you as many points as possible

If you’re doing a one-time swap, it’s best to check carefully what will and will not be accepted at The Fashion Pulpit, to avoid having any of your mere 10 items rejected, and thus reducing the number of points you get. No undergarments, swimwear, sportswear, socks and costumes. Any earrings must be new with tags. You can bring other accessories such as necklaces and bracelets, and bags and shoes too! Examine your items for any stains, missing buttons and the like – everything has to be in excellent condition. We did not see a small stain on a sweater that we brought to the store, that it was rejected, leaving us with nine instead of 10 to swap.

To snag the best that The Fashion Pulpit has to offer that day, it’s best to bring along items that can earn lots of points. Points are calculated through an algorithm (to be as objective as possible!) and based on the quality, style and brand of each item. Before our swap, this point system felt vague to us, and we were uncertain how many points our clothes would receive. When Raye crunched the numbers and told us our points, there were a few surprises too! Xueting, one of our writers, got 23 points for her four items, while our intern Seraphina got 24 points for her five items.

For anyone else who might also want more clarity on how the point system works, here are some examples from what points a few of our clothes got:

A pair of rown pants from the Uniqlo Hana Tajima collection: six points.
A dotted half-zip collared dress from ZARA: seven points.
A no-label sleeves romper: six points
A button-down shirt with various patterns: five points.
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