Get new season fashion thrills without breaking the bank or the planet

Game Changers: Take a fresh approach to buying ‘new’ clothes

Our consumption cycles are so fast, the joy of getting is quickly followed by the joy of getting rid. Now that we’re in a seasonal shift from winter to spring, mannequins in plate glass windows sport crisp T-shirts and breezy cotton. February is the month when we hug our woollens closer but fast fashion relentlessly shoves us into a future that is always about to be replaced by the next future.

It all feels exhausting and expensive. In the four fashion seasons since I wrote about Change Clothes Crumlin, the brilliant Mary Fleming and Oileán Carter-Stritch have put together an alternative retail experience that allows us to scratch the new season itch without breaking the bank or the planet.

Here’s how it works: I booked a time slot on their website for €5. Next I went through the pile of clothes I had culled from an overstuffed wardrobe and picked out the best ones. Much of it was office wear. There isn’t much call for shoulder pads these days. Because I knew my haul of up to 10 items was going to be assessed, I made sure they were tear-free, washed and ironed.

In return for my spruced-up clothes I got tickets, one for a basic item, two for the slightly better ones and three for the “bling”. Then I had half-an-hour to forage on the rails where other carefully chosen clothes were hanging. The whole experience did me good: the friendly room where women nattered to each other while sizing up the fashion with eagle eyes; the feeling of lightness when I left with less than I’d arrived, all of it new to me; the new season tingles with a bag of new clothes and the hope that my gear will make someone else’s day.


Like those capsule wardrobes fast fashion used to flog us, Change Clothes Crumlin is a capsule solution. They need larger premises to make more of those connections where one person’s tired piece is another person’s thrill. They need more men to take their clothes to the rails and come home with a bag of new-to-them stuff. Follow them on Instagram to see their gorgeous rental options that take the financial sting out of wedding or function invitations where amazing outfits end up as stranded assets in your wardrobe. They also run repair workshops, showing how hand-sewn sequins can bring a piece of bling back from the brink, and how beyond-wear clothes can be repurposed into other useful things. We know our consumption needs to be circular. These cool women social entrepreneurs are taking that idea and making it joyful.

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests