UConn student organizes clothing swap in Wallingford to promote sustainable shopping

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WALLINGFORD — A local college student is planning a clothing swap for women next week, with a message about fast fashion and sustainable shopping.

The clothing swap is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. July 24 at Hubcap, 128 Center St. 

Madeline Kizer, University of Connecticut sophomore, organized the event as part of an entrepreneurial school summer project for UConn’s Werth Institute Innovators Leadership Development program.

A Lyman Hall High School graduate in the class of 2020, she earned a full, four-year scholarship through the John J. Robinson Scholarship.

Each student defines a problem that resonates with them, conducts research and creates a solution. Projects range from launching a business to addressing a problem with a lasting impact, according to David Noble, director of the Werth Institute.

Kizer said Friday that by organizing a clothing swap, she hopes to encourage, destigmatize and normalize secondhand shopping and teach people about sustainable fashion.

“It’s buying clothing that's already used, like thrift shopping,” she said, “buying from brands that treat their workers properly, and the clothing is made properly with good materials.”

The opposite, she said, is fast fashion — clothes made cheaply overseas with few humanitarian or environmental controls.

“People are buying clothing because it's trendy, and then after those trends are over, in about two or three months, they throw it out,” she said.

She was inspired by “The True Cost,” a 2015 documentary about the garment industry.

“It's about the whole production of making clothing,” she said, “and if anyone watches that documentary, they'll really understand that not only does it exploit workers, but it also really hurts the environment.”

She came across the idea for a clothing swap through her internship at “Raine,” an online fashion, culture and technology magazine based in New York, where she read about a clothing swap in the United Kingdom.

“The goal for this event is to do a trial run, and then hopefully implement a clothing swap at Storrs,” she said, where UConn is located, “because when you're in college, everyone is like, ‘oh let me borrow your clothes’ anyway. I'm like, ‘why don't you just swap it?’”

While creating her project, one of her goals was to give back to others.

She found Planet Aid, a nonprofit that recycles textiles while supporting sustainable development projects, and decided to donate 20 percent of the profits from her event to the organization.

Swap attendees bring three to seven items of clothing of good quality — no stains or rips — and can take however many items they donate to the swap.

She’s planning to have a size-inclusive selection, as well as a photo area and dressing room.

Kizer said she knew about Hubcap from volunteering for a Lyman Hall culinary program event.

Joe Mirra, Hubcap founder and board chairman, said Friday that Kizer’s event aligns with the goals of Hubcap.

“It’s encouraging,” he said. “I like to see people who know what they want to do, and really work hard to put it together the right way.”

Kizer said that beyond the sustainable element of second-hand shopping, she enjoys the unique style she creates.

“I never really buy anything new,” she said. “I get bored. I don't want to go to the mall and just buy everything that everyone else has.”

Tickets are $12, available online through Eventbrite. Kizer also can be reached on Instagram at @kizerskollection.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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