Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Visa Swap

I have been so shelf-obsessed lately (no pun intended - honest) that I forgot to blog about visa swap, the ultimate in credit-crunch fashion, or at least in fashion for the low key high flyer not presently drawing any income...

I would include a link but to be honest the visa swap website is terminally dull - probably the oddest of several odd things about the occasion. Now that this year's event is over, all they seem to have left is a page to sign up for updates. How about some photos and commentary to whet our appetites for next time guys? The choice of Lindsay Lohan as figurehead is also questionable - not so much because of her recent plummet from grace generally, but more because a London event deserves a London face. Personally, my choice would be Erin O'Connor but I'm sure there are dozens of possibilities.

So what is visa swap? You take in your unwanted clothes, bags and shoes and are awarded points per item depending what they are and whether they are designer, mid-range or high street. It's pretty easy to build up points - I had about a thousand and only used half in the end. Then on the final weekend you are let loose to spend your points on everyone's donations at the visa swap 'loft' (er, it's mostly on the ground floor).

It's a really great idea provided you ignore the more excitable rumours about designer goods and recognise that it's a giant rummage sale - in a good cause because the leftovers go to Traid. Yes ideally they would get more shops and celebs to donate really good stuff but I only saw three or four designer pieces (I was about 20th in the queue on the first day) and wouldn't have wanted any of them - too small, too stained or just in a foul colour.

Those in the know also bring a massive shopper or bin liner to carry their booty - the rest of us dragged it around in our arms and had post-shopping elbow for days. Patient scouring of the rails, trying not to hate the girl who reached the green coat before me, came up with an armful of 13 items, some for me and some for friends. Not bad when you consider its basically free. My highlights were shoes with red roses on, a brand new St Martin's toile de jouy summer skirt, a gorgeous indian kaftan (purchased in the market in Rome according to its former owner who I bumped into) and a very cool little t-shirt featuring a businessman and a pirate. Truthfully, I might not have paid full price for any of these things in a shop, but part of the fun is that you can take whatever you like and see if it works later - great for those who are nervous of experimenting or wasting money on things they won't wear. I'm already stacking up stuff to donate next year...

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