Nicole with her Grandmother
Nicole Robertson is one half of the dynamic duo behind Swap Society. She and her husband Edward have worked tirelessly the past year and a half to bring Swap Society goodness to all of you! This week I chatted with Nicole about her personal style journey, how she came to love clothing swaps, and what is Swap Society is all about.
What was your style like growing up?
It took me a while to develop my personal style. My grandmother used to buy most of my clothes for me, so when I was little my style was mostly hers. I recall trying to shop for myself for the first time and feeling unsure of myself, and wanting to ask her what she thought. In high school I went through a bit of a transformation. It was the 90s—fashion became anti-fashion and grunge was all the rage. I lived in oversized tees, flannels, jeans and even *gasp* boxer shorts. I coveted my friends’ Doc Martens but sadly never got a pair of my own.
Who influenced your relationship with fashion the most?
It was definitely my Grandmother. She was a bit of a fashionista and I always loved how she dressed. She was funky and fashion-forward, and never dressed like the other grandmas. She was also very generous with me, and is probably the main reason I am obsessed with fashion.
‘About 8 years ago I started learning more about how polluting the fashion industry is, and I decided I wanted to make a change to my personal shopping habits.’
Do you have an early memory of shopping?
I remember being 7 years old and going shopping with my Grandmother and my Great-Grandmother to get a dress to wear to a wedding. We went to Neiman Marcus and Saks and tried so many different dresses on. The choice was ultimately a black dress from Saks that had rhinestones on it, but I recall really loving a gold lamé number at Neiman’s that we didn’t get. I’m still lamenting not having that dress.
How did you get involved with clothing swaps?
About 8 years ago I started learning more about how polluting the fashion industry is, and I decided I wanted to make a change to my personal shopping habits. I have never been a fan of going to stores where you try to sell your clothes—it feels pretty dehumanizing. They hardly accept anything, they look at your clothes like they are disgusting, and what they do accept they hardly give you any money for. I also was working a lot and didn’t have time to sell a bunch of clothes on ebay or something similar. I had the idea that swapping would be so much better so I did an internet search to see if there was a clothing swap in LA. I found one that was right in my neighborhood (almost a miracle!) and started swapping with about a hundred women on the westside of Los Angeles. With a few exceptions, I haven’t bought new clothing since!
‘I experiment a lot more than I used to. Since I’m not buying anything, I take more risks.’
What is your favorite thing about swapping instead of shopping?
Saving money and stepping more lightly on the earth.
How has your style changed since you started swapping?
I experiment a lot more than I used to. Since I’m not buying anything, I take more risks. I also find myself wearing more neutrals than I used to. I have always been a fan of bright colors, but there aren’t always as many colorful options, so I just go with the flow.
What is the best story you've heard from a Swap Society customer?
I always like to hear how members use our site. Here’s a fun quote from one of our members about how she uses our service. “I visit your site at least daily. I’m constantly trying to downsize my wardrobe, I have over 100 different dresses. Some clothes just don’t work for me. I need help styling since some dresses might not work for my body type. And if a dress doesn’t work for my body type then I just swap it. The shipping bag is great...I can fit a ton in those bags. I keep a bag in the closet at all times so that I can just put stuff in there when something needs to be swapped. I used to put things up on Ebay...but now I just don’t want to list things anymore since so much doesn’t sell...and then it's just a waste of my time. Listing items takes so much time and effort.”
Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She has attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, London College of Fashion, and received a BFA in costume design from the California Institute of the Arts. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious fashion and hopes to continue to spread awareness and love for ethical consumption. Visit her blog audstant.com and follow her on Instagram for lots of #slowfashion inspiration!