Today consumption around the world is part of daily life encouraged by the ever-growing array of goods on offer. Transparency of production and quality is conveniently overlooked. The misuse of children and textile workers is disregarded. In Switzerland, the growing pressure to consume more often outweighs the need to rectify this imbalance. There are indications that young people who cannot afford new clothes are under pressure to keep up with the latest trends. Government figures from 2018 show we consume 6 kilograms of clothing and textiles per capita, per annum, which equates to 51,267 tonnes of goods. It is easy to see that we waste an enormous amount of resources and cause tremendous pollution while ignoring the urgency that this problem presents on a global scale.
Our vision is big: we envisage a world in which the textile trade industry becomes socially and ecologically sustainable, which ultimately means that workers are paid adequately and work reasonable hours in safe environments. Furthermore, we encourage the safeguarding of the world’s resources in clothing production-; use and pollute less water in all aspects of production- dyeing, growing with pesticides and tanning. This also involves avoiding harsh chemicals and choosing ecological alternatives. Our vision can only become real with a change in our own consumption and by bringing pressure for change to bear on the leading producers of fast fashion.
Walk-in Closet Switzerland focuses on clothing consumption and its global consequences. Our goal is to be a sustainable link in the fashion chain offering an exciting alternative experience and opportunity to enjoy fashion.
We look at our attitude to consumption. At various locations in Switzerland, we offer an alternative to normal outlets to swap, not shop. Raising awareness is a priority. We currently work with Public Eye and other non-profit organisations whilst we also host workshops focused on sustainable clothing consumption with the goal of encouraging others to reflect on their buying habits.
The first Walk-in Closet swap was held in 2011. It was clear that there was an appetite in the market and the idea appealed to many consumers, ultimately leading to the founding of the Walk-in Closet Association. Along with the original founding members, many volunteers have joined and we continue to grow every year, with the addition of new locations, volunteers and net work partners. What started out as small youth project has evolved into the largest clothing swap organisation in Switzerland. In our Association we engage several hundred volunteers to further our cause for a sustainable clothing and textile industry.
Up until 2016, we were able to cover costs thanks to the passion and participation of the volunteer staff and the many visitors. Naturally, with the growth of the Association the administration work has grown and to further develop and maintain quality, we realised that we needed financial support which has been made available thanks to Foundation Mercator Switzerland. This contribution has enabled us to establish an administrative body which guarantees funding until 2021 on the condition that we find other financial sponsors and we work towards our goal of being able to cover costs and eventually gain financial independence.