September 12, 2017

Taylor Carre-Riddell

Banyule’s 2017 Youth Festival is being held on the 17th September 12-5pm at Macleod Park. Anna Lee, coordinator of the Clothes Swap project, excitably tells me that this project for youth “…aged 12 to 25 years, of all genders, shapes and sizes to project who they are!”

The way the project will run on the day will be simple: you can bring up to a total of 5 items (clothes, handbags, hijabs, accessories) and you can receive 5 tokens to trade in for different items. “They must be good quality!” Anna emphasises. If you can’t bring clothes on the day or forget, the Clothes Swap team have got you covered. You can broadcast the project on your social media or if you feel comfortable, bring along a friendly acquaintance that you have met during the Festival, and you both will receive 1 token each.

The team will also be running a “clothing hacks” program, where you can learn to “alter and do embroidery on your clothes to make it unique, make it your own.” Anna delves into how empowering youth with these skills can help fight the problematic “fast fashion and make clothes sustainable, just by making a few basic changes.” She passionately asserts “if you can’t do (something) with a needle and thread and a hot glue gun, it probably doesn’t matter.”

Being the Co-ordinator of Greenhills Neighbourhood House (GNH) and with experience in youth work and community development, Anna defines up the vision of the project nicely by saying “we know students aren’t loaded with cash, so we want to help them express themselves on a budget.”

The project was inspired by environmental challenges posed by the “52-week cycle of the fashion industry.” Anna and the team GNH wanted to raise awareness of environmental impacts that “clothes filling up our landfills” has. GNH has been running “biannual clothing swaps that are community lead and run by a group of artistic 20-25 year olds,” and Banyule Youth Services wanted in on the action, so they called upon the GNH’s expertise to run a clothes swap at Youth Fest.

Anna hopes that making the project as inclusive and culturally aware as possible will increase awareness of Banyule’s diverse community and create an environment where diverse youth can feel “accepted, wanted, where they feel they can hang out.” Anna says that helping young people across all dynamics to “not just wear the clothes, but to wear confidence” is the most fulfilling part of the Clothes Swap project.​

– Taylor Carre-Riddell

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