Support independent journalism - become a member

‘More than a shop’: taking a sustainable approach to childrenswear

In a bid to tackle clothing waste, there has been a rising in circular fashion outlets, including ApparelXchange which focuses on childrenswear in Glasgow Southside

ApparelXchange Shop in Glasgow Southside | Photo by Anna Macqueen
ApparelXchange Shop in Glasgow Southside | Photo by Anna Macqueen

The popularity of sustainable shopping has surged in recent years, with the second-hand clothing market growing by 149 percent in the UK from 2016 to 2022.

The familiar high street charity shops have been joined by new second-hand stores which provide a tailored shopping experience to specific target markets while still being beneficial to the environment. One expanding market for preloved fashion is childrenswear. And it was the substantial clothing waste generated by children outgrowing school uniforms that motivated Izzie Eriksen to establish ApparelXchange in 2018.

Now based at 65 Nithsdale Street in Glasgow’s Southside, the store stocks preloved childrenswear to create a sustainable clothing system for young people. ApparelXchange hopes to promote sustainability and connect with its surrounding community. 

Amy who works at ApparelXchange as a warehouse and shop assistant said: 

“We want this to be more than just a shop. We want this to be a place where people can hang out, learn something, meet new people and connect. We want to create a space where people can come and connect through workshops where we want people to achieve skills so they can feel more empowered when it comes to their clothes”

Shopping second-hand promotes circular fashion, which keeps items in circulation for longer and reduces the amount of textile waste generated by social media’s micro trends. Fast fashion is becoming an increasing problem for the planet, with clothing production currently the world’s third largest manufacturing industry, after the automotive and technology industries. 

A 2019 Environmental Audit by the House of Commons found the way clothes are currently made, used and thrown away is unsustainable. The audit found that “textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined,” 

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also highlighted the urgency needed to prevent the issue from growing, encouraging people to shop second-hand to do good for the planet. WWF explains that if people do not change their shopping habits, by 2050 it has been estimated that the fast fashion industry will be responsible for 25 % of the world’s total carbon budget. 

This appeal from WWF is echoed by Glasgow’s ApparelXchange whose mission is to: ‘reduce the impact of clothing on our planet by providing sustainable clothing services and influencing consumer behaviour through knowledge and empowerment’.

Inside ApparelXchange clothing shop

At ApparelXchange, all their donations are quality-checked, cleaned and prepared for resale at affordable prices, but additional support is on offer for families who need it. Any items which are not in good enough condition have their material recycled and any items which are too young for ApparelXchange are donated to Merry-Go-Round. 

Located just around the corner from ApparelXchange, Merry-Go-Round is a second-hand shop which sells a range of preloved maternity and early-year items including clothes, toys, moses baskets and prams. They aim to ensure parents can get everything they need without breaking the bank. They also have a family space in store which offers changing and feeding facilities and a wide range of activities running during the week. 

Like Merry-Go-Round, ApparelXchange is passionate about the local community, committing the profits from their physical store and online shop back into supporting families by providing clothes packages and working to influence the inequalities which presently prevail within the clothing sector.

They are running session on community climate activism, which aim to explore the climate crisis and how the local communities are affected by it. They will all include a discussion with an experienced facilitator and allow time for inclusive conversations.